Day 1207: White Houses

Cover for White HousesAmy Bloom’s latest novel, White Houses, leads me to a topic that I’ve mentioned before. I think it is important, when writing fiction about real people, to keep their characters true to that of the original person. Historians disagree about whether Eleanor Roosevelt’s warm friendship with Lorena Hickok was a full-blown lesbian affair. Those who believe it was, base their supposition on Eleanor’s exuberant letters. Those who do not, base it on Eleanor’s dislike of being touched. I think that’s significant, and I think people these days misinterpret the tone of letters from earlier times, when friends expressed themselves more affectionately than we do.

Amy Bloom has chosen to believe that the women’s relationship was a lesbian affair, and that’s what White Houses is about—and all that it’s about. It is written from the point of view of Lorena Hickok—or Hicky, as she was called.

link to NetgalleyThe novel paints a relatively convincing portrait of Eleanor, although I don’t buy the bed bouncing, and it is a sad story and ultimately touching. Its premise, though, makes me uncomfortable for the reasons stated above.

Franklin does not appear in a positive light, and in terms of their marriage, he should not. The character study of Hicky as a downright, plain-speaking reporter who gave up her career for love is a good one, and one I can believe.

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6 thoughts on “Day 1207: White Houses

  1. Cathy746books April 24, 2018 / 3:02 pm

    I do love fictionalised accounts of real people and I’ve been hearing good things about this one.

    • whatmeread April 24, 2018 / 9:06 pm

      I tend to be ambivalent about it sometimes.

  2. Davida Chazan April 29, 2018 / 5:08 am

    This is the second review of this book I’ve read and both are making me want to read this book.

  3. Naomi May 1, 2018 / 12:22 pm

    I think it would bother me not to know for sure if their relationship was romantic or platonic. It’s quite a big assumption to make.

    • whatmeread May 1, 2018 / 10:47 pm

      Yes, that was what bothered me, especially as I would guess Eleanor was rather undemonstrative.

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