Novel of the week
Amy Bloom’s new novel “brings the reader inside a love affair for the ages,” said Jenny Shank in The Dallas Morning News. Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena Hickock apparently carried on an extended affair during the first lady’s years in the White House, and though we can’t know what went on behind closed doors, Bloom has used fiction to illuminate her two subjects, not exploit them. The former National Book Award finalist “has always worked best up close, near her characters’ heads and hearts,” and the formula works again here. Hickock tells the story, and she proves to be “a terrific narrator: brash, funny, and opinionated as all get-out,” said Heller McAlpin in the San Francisco Chronicle. A South Dakota native who’d risen from a hard youth to become a prominent Associated Press reporter before Roosevelt brought her into the White House as the designated “first friend,” she loves both Roosevelts but never loses sight of their blind spots. Despite a few “overly long” digressions, the novel “reminds us what true greatness looks like.” The Roosevelts were imperfect, but they were leaders.