White Houses is a work of fiction about the supposed relationship between First Lady Eleanor and reporter Lorena Hickok. The author uses real letters between the two women to piece together their relationship.
White Houses is taken from the perspective of Lorena Hickok or Hick. We get some of her background up to when she becomes a reporter on the Roosevelts and their journey to the White House. What is unexpected is the friendship with Eleanor and Hick develop. Hick leaves her job as White House reporter and moves into the White House at Eleanor’s insistence. From there starts an affair between the two that continues well after Franklin’s death.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t read the whole blurp before picking this book up. I love historical fiction and had seen it on NetGalley. When I spotted it at the library I just had to pick it up.
First, the book just does not flow well at all. We get a date and place at the beginning of each chapter, but the time changes multiple times in the chapters and without warning. It became very confusing and made the whole narrative seem jumbled. And the prose (my first time using this term on here!) didn’t work well either. Lots of pronouns that made the reading bland.
Second, the whole relationship doesn’t seem that believable in light of the era it’s set. Possible? Maybe. But as public and outright as the book makes it seem? Doubt it. Especially since Eleanor is, like, the FIRST LADY. And there was absolutely nothing between them that could suggest an affair would start.
Third, I had issues with how the First Lady Eleanor is presented. This is totally my personal opinion and how I felt about it, but I really think Bloom did an injustice to Eleanor here. She’s the First Lady and was an advocate for many things. She’s strong, even with her husband’s revolving door of ladies. But outside that, I feel this book made Eleanor weak. Maybe it was how the author built her character.
White Houses by Amy Bloom receives 2 stars.
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