Review: White Houses

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Title: White Houses
Author: Amy Bloom
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Random House
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

For readers of The Paris Wife and The Swans of Fifth Avenuecomes a “sensuous, captivating account of a forbidden affair between two women” (People)–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.

Review:

Since I’m Canadian, I don’t know much about American History. I wasn’t very familiar with the Roosevelts before reading this story. I learned a lot, but this story just wasn’t for me.

The story was quite confusing at times. It jumped around in the timeline. The main story was about Lorena and Eleanor in a hotel in New York following Franklin Roosevelt’s death. But Lorena would tell stories from her past at times. It was confusing when she would jump to a different time between paragraphs. Sometimes, I would be reading a scene and I would forget what the point of it was or even how she got to that story.

Whenever I read historical fiction, I end up googling the characters to see what parts are true. Many of the events in the story really happened. But some seemed over the top. One example of this is a scene with a circus troupe near the beginning of the story. It reminded me of the exaggerated circus story from the movie Big Fish. These scenes didn’t seem connected. This book was really missing an overall plot to weave these scenes together.

Unfortunately, this book didn’t work for me.

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