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Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  1,426 ratings  ·  311 reviews
Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelt’s 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 FDR’s lifelong romance with Lucy Mercer to Eleanor’s purported lesbianism—and many scandals in between—the American public has never tired o ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 26th 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published October 15th 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,942)
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Ashley Hoopes
OK, why are some of the best Presidents such ego maniacs? Seriously...it's almost like they feel like they have earned their vices if they are off saving the world or have the best interests of the world at heart. And sadly, Franklin Roosevelt was no different. He was a great President. This book confirms that. But he was a bastard of a husband. Luckily Eleanor was strong, and she found companionship and love from others. But his slimy sexual appetite is astounding...especially that it never wan ...more
Carl Rollyson
That Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt formed a splendid partnership is not news. While FDR superbly calculated the political consequences of nearly every move he made, Eleanor encouraged him to act on his convictions -- sometimes goading him to do the right thing at the risk of his career. And it is not surprising to learn about FDR's extramarital dalliances with other women, or about Eleanor's passionate attachments to both women and men, attachments that verged on and perhaps included romantic a ...more
Hooma
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Since my childhood, one of my favorite literary genres has been biographies. In particular, I have enjoyed reading up on the lives of accomplished and strong women, which is why I was automatically drawn to this book. Though this was a biography and it was full of historical facts and references it was fresh and readable and an absolute page turner.

I have long admired and looked up to Eleanor Roosevelt -- for me her life has served as an inspiration -- and this
...more
Ferris
I just devoured this book. I am not an historian, so I cannot debate the veracity of the facts. However, assuming this story sprung from research with integrity, it was a fascinating read. Indeed, a remarkable relationship existd between Franklin & Eleanor. It was based on acceptance of one another which stemmed from them being accepting of people in general. Superficial traits and public opinion had little to do with their loyalties, although they did require secrecy to live as their true s ...more
Malbadeen
I like to think that I'm at least a somewhat intellectually curious person, but there is one topic that typically bores me, and it's a big one, and I'm a little ashamed to admit it, but I can't deny - history typically bores me. And I further hate that what helps me engage with history is when it's a small story about a few people rather than narratives about grand sweeping periods of time or movements and their impact on current day (so "girly" of me to want to hear the personal dram - bleh), b ...more
Eileen Carter
Apr 28, 2013 Eileen Carter rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who enjoy history
This book was incredible. I love history, so that made it more interesting to me. Amazing I knew that FDR had polio and used a wheelchair but was not aware to the measures his family and friends took to keep how severe his paralysis was. And that the press respected their wishes of not taking pictures of him at certain times and places. If you like history this is certainly an easy and good read.
Judy
This was most interesting and easy to read. The way they created separate, but integrated lives is most fascinating. At the center was Franklin and his political life, all revolved around that. Yet she was able to become her own person, have her own friends and still fill the role as his wife and the First Lady.
Darlene
I chose to read this book because I am very curious about the marriage and relationship of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. Although I enjoyed reading this book and found it very interesting, I didn't feel that it lived up to how it was marketed. I felt the book focused more on the details of Franklin Roosevelt's political career with some family background thrown in rather than specifically the relationship between these two impressive people.Of course, Roosevelt's political career was always ve ...more
Fergie
Next to Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt has always been an idol of mine. When fighting for the little man was not popular, and in fact, very much a deterring factor in politics -- when the Roaring 20's and free market, conservatism reigned -- along came a politician named FDR who, despite his own good fortune and wealth, did not neglect to see the responsibility he had to make the world a better place for those less fortunate. How easy it could have been for him to take the path of ot ...more
Caroline
There is an enduring fascination with the marriage of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, perhaps more so than any other presidential partnership before or since. Part of it, no doubt, is because of Eleanor's own profile - because of FDR's disability Eleanor had to serve as his 'eyes and legs' as he put it, and therefore played a far more important and visible role than any first lady up until that time, touring, visiting, inspecting, travelling. Part of it is the curious independent nature of their ...more
Sally Cabot
I'm fascinated with both of them, individually and as a couple, so this was a no-brainer for me. I sailed through. In fact, it inspired a side trip to Hyde Park later in the month. Now that's what I call a good book . . .
Jacqueline Smith
Reading Rowley's beautiful prose and historically expansive biography is a delight. Both the charming personality of Franklin and the influential kindness and strength of Eleanor are seamlessly highlighted throughout, making a reader keenly aware of the humanity of these two extraordinary individuals. Franklin's paralysis and Eleanor's complexity are explored with finesse, as is their upbringing. While Bob Carr may have reviewed the biography back in 2011 as revealing nothing new of the FDR year ...more
Lisa
I would probably never have bothered to read this book if it hadn’t been written by the noted Australian biographer, Hazel Rowley (1951-2011). For a start, as an Australian I am naturally more interested in reading about our political leaders than American ones, but also I’m not interested in their private lives at all because I believe it’s none of my business, nor anyone else’s.

However I was attracted to Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage when I saw it at the library because it ha
...more
Kimberly
I've always enjoyed reading books about Eleanor Roosevelt and this book was no exception. Instead of rehashing all of ER's accomplishments the author used correspondence (pages and pages of notes at he back!) from Eleanor, Franklin and their friends & family to tell the story of their marriage and partnership.

But Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were all about image and the heaps of letters and writings they chose to leave behind are a carefully selected and crafted lot. Other interested part
...more
Carl Brush
Hazel Rowley has written a good book here, but it seems to me one that didn’t need writing. After having read biographies of both these monumental people, I found little new either in content or approach to freshen my view of them either as individuals or as a couple.

Perhaps the most interesting insight--available to me after my other reading if I’d only been intelligent enough to catch it--in Franklin and Eleanor is the idea that both of them had a penchant for a communal existence. They liked
...more
April
I'm giving this book 2 stars, not because it wasn't well written (it was), but I found the subject matter depressing. I read a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt a few years ago, and after reading this book I realize how much was left out of it.

They had been married for about 10 years when FDR had his first (that we know of) of many affairs. I think that it broke Eleanor's spirit. At the time she had 5 children and was completely dependent on FDR (and his mother) for everything. FDR's mother suppor
...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’

A number of books have been written about Franklin D Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor, and I was tempted to read this one after hearing an interview with the author, Hazel Rowley shortly before she died.

I confess to knowing very little about either of the Roosevelts before reading this book and while the life of the man who became the longest serving US President in history is interesting, it is the partnership between Eleanor and Franklin which enga
...more
Shinynickel
Dec 28, 2010 Shinynickel marked it as to-read
Off this review: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

Women all over America - if they were a certain type - could take comfort in the fact that even if they were poor, uneducated and stupid, there was one person more homely than they were. Eleanor was the proverbial mud fence, and because she believed in good causes, social justice and the essential humanity of Negroes, she also got to be the national pill. Put another way, in their 40-year marriage, Franklin Roosevelt was the hipster, Elean
...more
Susan
This book felt like it was written with the intention of drawing parallels with modern times. That, or humanity is even *more* prone to repeating its foibles and denying its innate characteristics than I've thought to-date. I'm torn as far as which is closer to reality.
I'm not a Roosevelt expert. I enjoyed the view of this era that the author revealed to me- it may very well compel me to dig deeper. If you're willing to read a biography from another era where corporations almost ruined it all, r
...more
Susan Wittig Albert
A highly readable and dramatic introduction to this power couple for readers who aren't familiar with the story. No new facts here; the value lies in the consistent focus on the marriage and its continual redefinitions in the lives of Eleanor and Franklin.
Annette
I am quite intereste in this era of History and since Franklin was the only President I knew growing up I am alway interested in anything about him. Eleanor has always been a very strong indepenent lady which was unusually for her time and I have greatly admired her.

The story of their lives together as a married couple was full of new things I never knew about them.

I found out that he had polio even before he ran for the presidency and he lived more than 11 years as an invalid yet was strong e
...more
Kimberly
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone wishing to get a unique perspective on the Roosevelt marriage. Rowley does a wonderful job weaving the personal details of Franklin and Eleanor's relationship among the backdrop of extraordinary historical events. Their union was so successful, in part, to the fact that they were ahead of their time with regards to the defined roles of husband and wife. Both Roosevelts defied their social standing by fighting for the "average man," ...more
Jana
This was probably a 3.5 star book for the writing (good but not amazing) but I really enjoyed learning more about the Roosevelts and found it a well-researched but readable book.
Carol
What challenges they had. The relationship that Franklin and Eleanor had beautifully explains their humanity and their strengths and weaknesses, but you also get a clear picture of how the two respected each other, grew as a couple throughout their lives, and experienced an unusual and unconventional marriage. I was so impressed by their dedication to their work and all of the efforts they made to improve life for the common man. The two of them were really amazing people.
Linda Harkins
Using primary sources such as letters, journals, and interviews, Hazel Rowley provides the reader with a wealth of information about Franklin's and Eleanor's similarities, differences, and personal transformations throughout their forty-year marriage. As I was reading, I simply could not help but compare the marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton to that of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. Both husbands were involved in dalliances. Both couples saw their marriages shift due to the stress and demand ...more
Lisa
Very interesting. You never know what goes on behind closed doors. I never would have expected private lives like theirs, especially that of the First Lady's. Despite being all too human, they are real heros having fought hard for the US and the world, bringing us many freedoms and economic "benefits" today that just didn't exist in the 1930s and 1940s. I am glad to have gotten to know Franklin and Eleanor a little better!
Megan
"Extraordinary marriage" is a tragic misnomer for this book. Better names might include:
1. All the girls I've loved: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt
2. The guide to infidelity
3. Keeping up appearances: More important than faith, family, or fidelity
4. An extraordinary partnership
5. The close, romantic intimacies I've shared with others beside my spouse throughout our marriage
Etc
You get the point.
My heart was truly broken to see such a dysfunctional marriage at the pinnacle of our nation. It goes w
...more
Geoff Wooldridge
This excellent biography by Hazel Rowley , written with verve and wit, is well-researched and very even handed in its portrayal of both the strengths and shortcomings of both Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Covering the period from the late 19th century (Franklin was born in 1882 and Eleanor in 1884), it tells of the prominent Roosevelt family in American society and politics, leading to the eventual marriage of these two cousins on St Patrick's Day 1905.

The marriage of Franklin and Eleanor was a
...more
Susan
My bookclub read different books about Eleanor Roosevelt, and then got together to discuss her life. Eleanor starts life as the classic "poor little rich girl". Orphaned early and raised by an aunt, life was not always easy for her despite her family name and uncle who was the president. Along comes Franklin, a distant cousin, and she marries very young. Rowley examines the married life of Eleanor and Franklin including the ups and downs of politics and challenges the couple faces when Franklin ...more
Irving Koppel

This is probably the most intimate biography that I have read about FDR and
his wife,Eleanor. Franklin was a very great man who had to overcome a crippling
disease. Nevertheless,he was able to find time throughout his life for Lucie Mercer,the woman he had first met when he was Assistant Secretary of the Navy in
World War I.

Eleanor,after she had nursed FDR back to health,devoted herself to the
Democratic Party as well as many other liberal groups. Along the way she met many
strong women whom she a
...more
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Hazel Rowley was a British-born Australian author and biographer.

Born in London, Rowley emigrated with her parents to Adelaide at the age of eight. She studied at the University of Adelaide, graduating with Honours in French and German. Later she acquired a PhD in French. She taught literary studies at Deakin University in Melbourne, before moving to the United States.

Rowley's first published biog
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