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Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  1,778 Ratings  ·  340 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
ebook, 368 pages
Published October 26th 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published October 15th 2010)
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Caroline
Jul 23, 2012 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent read for those of us who like a good dollop of human interest in our politics. I had the added bonus of being a Brit, and a fairly uneducated one at that. So the whole book for me was a revelation in various ways.

* Learning about Franklin and Eleanor - two powerful, intelligent, charismatic and often trail- blazing figures.
* Learning about FDR's revolutionary politics in response to the Great Depression and the Second World War, and Eleanor's work with African Americans, wom
...more
Lyn Elliott
Hazel Rowley is well-regarded as a biographer, and the Roosevelts were interesting people whose lives were internationally significant. Her focus in this book is not on their public lives, however, but more the relationship between the two lead characters, Eleanor and Franklin, and their close relationships with others. These were no doubt scandalous at the time, and would still be seen as scandalous in the hypocritical miasma surrounding modern political life. I didn't find them particularly in ...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
Ashley Hoopes
May 01, 2011 Ashley Hoopes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Veronica
Jul 02, 2015 Veronica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished the Ken Burns Roosevelt documentary & wanted to go more into the relationship between Eleanor & FDR. This bio was pretty good since it was told thru letter they wrote to each other. Although, their relationship was far from a true love story, it seems they did highly esteem each other to stay together for that long, 40 yrs. I ultimately feel bad for Eleanor who seemed she just wanted to be loved back but she was a courageous woman & will be one of my ultimate hero's!
Hooma
Aug 15, 2011 Hooma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 09, 2011 Ferris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 21, 2010 Malbadeen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, audio
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
Judy
Oct 02, 2012 Judy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Fergie
Dec 12, 2011 Fergie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Siria
As the title of this readable biography suggests, Franklin and Eleanor focuses on the dynamics of their marriage. Hazel Rowley does a good job of untangling the chronologies of the husband and wife's romantic involvements with one another and with other people, though given the nature of the sources there is inevitably much that cannot be known. I knew only the vague outline of their lives before reading this book, and was fascinated to see the evolution of Eleanor from a shy and diffident young ...more
Sally
Dec 19, 2010 Sally rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 . . .
April
Jan 21, 2011 April rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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)
May 18, 2011 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librarybooks
‘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
Jill Robertson
Jun 22, 2016 Jill Robertson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
If you don't know much about these 20th century icons, then 'Franklin and Eleanor: An extraordinary marriage' by Hazel Rowley is a good start. While we read of his political ambitions and achievements and her good works in support of women's rights, the focus here is on their personal lives. The author gleans evidence from remaining letters, diaries and interviews which throw some light on the independent marriage arrangements (very daring for the times) that began after 12 years of marriage and ...more
Caroline
Mar 28, 2014 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Carl R.
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
Shinynickel
Dec 28, 2010 Shinynickel marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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
Kimberly
Dec 06, 2010 Kimberly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, biography
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
Susan
Nov 18, 2010 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Oct 18, 2011 Kimberly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Susan
Jun 19, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think it must be incredibly difficult to write a biography, and I've often found it difficult to read one as well. This is an exception. The author focuses on the relationships of Franklin and Eleanor--with each other and with the extended community they created for themselves. While the book glosses over or completely omits some of the Roosevelt political mistakes and flaws, the historical events were the context for the interpersonal. Readable and entertaining and eye-opening...but if you wa ...more
Katie Wilson
Jul 13, 2013 Katie Wilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: summer-2015
It’s pretty well agreed upon that there is a sense of romanticism that settles around FDR, as well as his wife Eleanor. FDR managed to lead a country through wartime while battling debilitating illnesses and Eleanor has been an inspiration to generations of women. It should not be surprising that two such extraordinary individuals had an extraordinary marriage, but it does as a President’s private life is often treated as just that, private.

Read Full Review: https://mybookbagblog.wordpress.com/2
...more
Carol
Sep 29, 2012 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eleanor-franklin
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.
Lisa
Sep 04, 2013 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Jane
Dec 10, 2010 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book helped to explain the importance of community to the couple. They accomplished great things. I knew very little about either of them so it was a good overview for me. There was little about controversial political decisions. A book about their relationship not politics. I learned a lot.
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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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More about Hazel Rowley...

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