Synopses & Reviews
Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelts marriage is one of the most celebrated and scrutinized partnerships in presidential history. It raised eyebrows in their lifetimes and has only become more controversial since their deaths. From FDRs lifelong romance with Lucy Mercer to Eleanors purported lesbianism—and many scandals in between—the American public has never tired of speculating about the ties that bound these two headstrong individuals. Some claim that Eleanor sacrificed her personal happiness to accommodate FDRs needs; others claim that the marriage was nothing more than a gracious façade for political convenience. No one has told the full story until now.
In this groundbreaking new account of the marriage, Hazel Rowley describes the remarkable courage and lack of convention—private and public—that kept FDR and Eleanor together. She reveals a partnership that was both supportive and daring. Franklin, especially, knew what he owed to Eleanor, who was not so much behind the scenes as heavily engaged in them. Their relationship was the product of FDR and Eleanors conscious efforts—a partnership that they created according to their own ambitions and needs.
In this dramatic and vivid narrative, set against the great upheavals of the Depression and World War II, Rowley paints a portrait of a tender lifelong companionship, born of mutual admiration and compassion. Most of all, she depicts an extraordinary evolution—from conventional Victorian marriage to the bold and radical partnership that has made Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt go down in history as one of the most inspiring and fascinating couples of all time.
"'In my view, the Roosevelts' bond was political in every sense of the word,' writes Rowley, who also argues that despite the difficulties in their marriage, Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt always genuinely loved each other. And the difficulties in the marriage were many: Franklin's domineering mother; his flirtatiousness with attractive women; Eleanor's long, maddening retreats into self-righteous silence whenever she was hurt or angry. After 11 years of marriage, Eleanor offered Franklin a divorce upon discovering his affair with her social secretary, Lucy Mercer (she, not Eleanor, would be with FDR when he died). But after he was struck by polio in 1921, she tolerated Franklin's long romance with his secretary, Missy LeHand, while FDR allowed Eleanor her romantic relationships with her chauffeur, Earl Miller, and journalist Lorena Hickok. Despite Rowley's (Christina Stead) cheerleading that the cousins' conflicts brought out their courage and radicalism, and that they loved with a generosity of spirit that withstood betrayal, FDR emerges as a narcissist while Eleanor carved a spectacular life for herself out of a flawed marriage. While much of this story is familiar, the book is nonetheless an engrossing account of an unusual pairing of two extraordinary people. 8 pages of b&w illus. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"A focused account of a complex marriage that continues to fascinate." Kirkus Reviews
"Rowley, refreshingly,...paints a compulsively readable portrait of a vibrant partnership and a successful, albeit unconventional, marriage that nevertheless suited the ambitions and the temperaments of each partner." Booklist
"Without resort to sensationalism, the author turns a familiar story into a page-turner, bringing out the nuances of this marriage and of their relationships with others around them without demeaning either FDR or ER." Library Journal
In this groundbreaking new account of their marriage, Rowley describes the remarkable courage and lack of convention--private and public--that kept Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt together.
A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
In this groundbreaking account of the marriage, critically acclaimed biographer Hazel Rowley describes the remarkable courage and lack of convention---private and public---that kept FDR and Eleanor together. She reveals a partnership that was both supportive and daring. Most of all, she depicts an extraordinary evolution---from conventional Victorian marriage to the bold and radical partnership that has made Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt go down in history as one of the most inspiring and fascinating couples of all time.
About the Author
Hazel Rowley (1951-2011) was born in London and educated in England and Australia. She moved to the United States in the late 1990s and lived in New York City. She was the author of critically acclaimed biographies. Christina Stead: A Biography was a New York Times Best Book, and Richard Wright: The Life and Times was a Washington Post Best Book. Tête-à-Tête: Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre has been translated into twelve languages. Rowley was the recipient of fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute and the Rockefeller Foundation.