AN UNTOLD STORY: The Roosevelts of Hyde Park by Elliott & James Brough Roosevelt

AN UNTOLD STORY: The Roosevelts of Hyde Park

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Most of the ""untold"" story is trivia. But trivia on a Rooseveltian scale! We learn through the knothole that Eleanor had little sympathy with her husband's ""pursuit of the rainbow that would enable him to walk."" We learn that Eleanor and Franklin ceased to live together as husband and wife after the birth of their last child -- ""the most tightly held secret that we five children ever shared and kept"" -- not only because Eleanor wanted no more children and was so appallingly unknowledgeable on the subject of birth control but because the Lucy Mercer affair was boiling, soon to lead to Eleanor's threatened divorce and the ensuing agreement that Franklin give up Lucy. We learn more than the gossip hounds and scholars have hitherto told us about Franklin's attraction to other women -- the beautiful, poised Lucy of course who caused the tightlipped, ""secretive"" Eleanor enormous pain, but also the faithful Missy LeHand who came to share ""a familial life in all its aspects with Father. What did surprise us was the later knowledge that Mother knew, too, and accepted it as a fact of life like the rest of us."" So most of this is a mouse-in-the-bedroom memoir, an effort ""to set the record straight,"" to confirm the sexless Eleanor (""Her sensibilities were not tuned to sexual attraction of any kind"") and the sexy Franklin (""about the most flirtatious character I had ever known""). There are other intimate family subjects covered, like money (without Granny's ""largesse"" Franklin could not have afforded to be President) and drinking (Prohibition was flaunted in the Roosevelt home and Father eventually became a 7-to-1 martini man); but the book's instincts are sexual -- nothing salacious mind you -- just that good, healthy curiosity about the habits of the famous.

Pub Date: April 27th, 1973
Publisher: Putnam