A LOVE IN SHADOW by John R. Boettiger


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Anyone who kept tabs on the divorcing Roosevelts in the Thirties and Forties will recognize the Boettiger name: John is the son of Anna Roosevelt Dall Boettiger Halsted--who met her second husband when he was covering FDR's 1932 presidential campaign for the arch-conservative Chicago Tribune. Once he and Anna decided to marry, the formerly right-wing Boettiger found his position untenable, and he resigned (eliciting from testy boss Col. McCormick a notably generous and understanding response). Thereafter he was fated, for better and worse, to be the president's son-in-law--an anomalous role especially difficult for the un-privileged, insecure, and moody man that John R. (for Roosevelt) depicts his father to have been. What his love-happy parents jokingly called ""the psob angle"" is muffled, however, by the family psychodrama he makes of their marriage. We do have the Boettigers' six heady, hectic, increasingly strained years running the Seattle Post-Intelligencer; the 42-year-old Boettiger's decision, in 1943, to enlist--triggered by a brusque FDR reference to his not being in uniform; the crucial collapse of the couple's post-war, post-FDR effort to launch a daily paper in Phoenix. Defeated in his need ""to prove himself a man of as considerable consequence as he had been,"" Boettiger--now parted from Anna--killed himself in 1950. What we do not have is development of the foregoing, for son John has concentrated his researches and his narrative attention on the patterns of Roosevelt and Boettiger family history that, ostensibly, ""shadowed"" the marriage of John and Anna. This is crude and, on the distaff side, familiar stuff--but addicts of Roosevelt family chronicles will find a winning portrait of Anna (see her about-face on debutanting, for instance), some sidelights on the Anna-Eleanor-Lucy triangle, and revisionary glimpses of the close, tense mother-daughter relationship. As for the unfortunate Boettiger, he's the stuff that novels are made of.

Pub Date: Sept. 18th, 1978
Publisher: Norton