New York Times bestselling author Albert (The Darling Dahlias and the Silver Dollar Bush, 2015, etc.) returns to historical fiction in this intimate exploration of the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena Hickok.
Shortly after Eleanor’s death, Lorena (known as “Hick” to her friends) decides to write a memoir of their time together. She agrees to publish it on the condition that it and accompanying personal correspondence will remain sealed until after Hick dies. “I met Mrs. Roosevelt in 1928, the year that Herbert Hoover beat the pants off Al Smith,” she begins, and her narrative voice remains lively as she reminisces about the former first lady and her own remarkable life as one of the first female news reporters in the United States. Hick first zeroes in on Eleanor during the New York gubernatorial race because she’s “doing something political wives just didn’t do. She was campaigning for the ticket.” Eleanor is an intriguing anomaly: a tireless woman who splits her time between campaigning, teaching, writing, and mothering. The two women connect during their first interview, and when Franklin begins his first presidential run, Hick covers Eleanor full-time. The two women become close, and their relationship soon turns romantic. They exchange countless letters of longing and dream of a quieter life in which they can be simply ordinary. But many obstacles stand in their way, not least of which is Eleanor’s transformation into a public personage. Over time, their romance evolves into a deep, lifelong friendship. Albert captures Hick’s spirit with energetic prose, painting a colorful picture of her fascinating life together with and apart from Eleanor. Although this memoir is fictional, the author draws upon thousands of personal letters, first-person accounts by others, and further research to present a compelling possible narrative of the relationship between Eleanor and Hick. Albert’s illuminating afterword adds important context to her narrative choices, and a comprehensive bibliography will encourage additional research.
This warm, extensively researched novel will entrance readers and inspire them to look further into the lives of two extraordinary women.