White Houses (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Amy Bloom's first foray into creative  historical nonfiction with "White Houses" is nicely done. With an intimate look into the lives of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Bloom manages to build a story about the things that were often left unsaid through her narrator Lorena Hickok. 

Hickok is the center of "White Houses," and her bold, brassy style comes off the page through Bloom's writing. A newspaperwoman from the 1930s-1950s, "Hick" was as bold and as the "open secret" of her relationship with Eleanor. Called the First Friend, Lorena shared an adjoining room to the First Lady's.  This change - from a poverty-stricken and abusive childhood to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. - is made less abrupt through Bloom's storytelling. 

From the time the two first met in 1932 when Hick was covering FDR's first run for president, to her final days, Eleanor held a special place in Hick's life - something that Bloom builds through the letters, reports, and books written about the Roosevelt White House (and Lorena Hickok). The book is told in sections - mostly through flashback after FDR's death and Eleanor's resulting grief. 

The two women - Eleanor and Hick - couldn't be more opposite to one another: Hick knew poverty while Eleanor knew wealth and grandeur; Hick knew bawdy back rooms while Eleanor entertained dignitaries. But the love the two share bridges the differences and creates a lasting impression in the reader. 

— Shelly Walston

February 2018 Indie Next List

“Lorena Hickok, the most prominent female reporter in America, meets Eleanor Roosevelt in 1932 while reporting on Franklin Roosevelt's first presidential campaign. Almost immediately, Hick and Eleanor connect passionately and deeply, and Hick moves into the White House as 'First Friend.' The story of their bond is told with art and grace and a bit of intrigue by the wise and gifted Amy Bloom. A love story and historical novel, based on a true romance and unabashedly sensual, White Houses is extraordinary.”
— Cathy Langer, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO


For readers of The Paris Wife and The Swans of Fifth Avenue comes a love story inspired by "one of the most intriguing relationships in history"*--between Eleanor Roosevelt and "first friend" Lorena Hickok.

Lorena Hickok meets Eleanor Roosevelt in 1932 while reporting on Franklin Roosevelt's first presidential campaign. Having grown up worse than poor in South Dakota and reinvented herself as the most prominent woman reporter in America, "Hick," as she's known to her friends and admirers, is not quite instantly charmed by the idealistic, patrician Eleanor. But then, as her connection with the future first lady deepens into intimacy, what begins as a powerful passion matures into a lasting love, and a life that Hick never expected to have. She moves into the White House, where her status as "first friend" is an open secret, as are FDR's own lovers. After she takes a job in the Roosevelt administration, promoting and protecting both Roosevelts, she comes to know Franklin not only as a great president but as a complicated rival and an irresistible friend, capable of changing lives even after his death. Through it all, even as Hick's bond with Eleanor is tested by forces both extraordinary and common, and as she grows as a woman and a writer, she never loses sight of the love of her life.

From Washington, D.C. to Hyde Park, from a little white house on Long Island to an apartment on Manhattan's Washington Square, Amy Bloom's new novel moves elegantly through fascinating places and times, written in compelling prose and with emotional depth, wit, and acuity.

Advance praise for White Houses

"Amy Bloom brings an untold slice of history so dazzlingly and devastatingly to life, it took my breath away."--Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

"A novel of the secret, scandalous love of Eleanor Roosevelt and her longtime friend and companion Lorena Hickok, who relates the tale in her own, quite wonderful voice."--Joyce Carol Oates

"Lorena Hickok is a woman who found love with another lost soul, Eleanor Roosevelt. And love is what this book is all about: It suffuses every page, so that by the time you reach the end, you are simply stunned by the beauty of the world these two carved out for themselves."--Melanie Benjamin, author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue*

About the Author

Amy Bloom is the author of Come to Me, a National Book Award finalist; A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You, nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Love Invents Us; Normal; Away, a New York Times bestseller; Where the God of Love Hangs Out; and Lucky Us, a New York Times bestseller. Her stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Short Stories, The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction, and many other anthologies here and abroad. She has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Slate, Tin House, and Salon, among other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award. She is the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing at Wesleyan University.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780812995664
ISBN-10: 081299566X
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: February 13th, 2018
Pages: 240
Language: English