THE EXTRAORDINARY MRS. R by William Turner Levy


A Friend Remembers Eleanor Roosevelt
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A stiff but loving remembrance of the First Lady from an Episcopal clergyman who became a close friend in the last decade of her life. Levy (co-author with Victor Scherle of Affectionately, T.S. Eliot, 1968, etc.) was then a young teacher of English at City College of New York and a collector of Roosevelt memorabilia. He wrote to Mrs. Roosevelt inquiring for some details of the history of his purchases; she invited him to tea. From that first meeting evolved a relationship that encompassed many weekends at Val-Kill, Mrs. Roosevelt’s retreat in Hyde Park, as well as dinners and social occasions at the home of Levy’s parents. As their friendship deepened, Levy was often a guest at more formal events, where heads of state like Yugoslavia’s President Tito and the USSR’s Nikita Khrushchev, among others, paid their respects to Mrs. Roosevelt at Hyde Park. Other visits coincided with Levy’s continuing research at the Hyde Park Library on FDR’s religious beliefs and allowed the two friends time to exchange anecdotes and reflections in leisurely fashion. On these occasions, Levy heard, for instance, Eleanor’s astute analysis of Nixon’s motives in informing supporters early on of President Eisenhower’s heart attack (they would benefit from stock market fluctuations and be indebted to Nixon), and of her refusal to support John F. Kennedy for president until he strengthened his commitment to “basic tenets of the Democratic party.” There are also personal glimpses—descriptions of her hearty appetite, wide-ranging late-night discussions of literature and Scripture over a snack of fruit, and personal reminiscences about her husband and her childhood. Credit co-author Russett, a Yale historian, with organizing the chronology of the friendship and giving it historical weight. An appropriately treasured friendship recalled in labored prose. (b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 17th, 1999
ISBN: 0-471-33177-5
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Wiley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1999


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