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Undiscovered Country

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  294 ratings  ·  41 reviews
An extraordinary novel portraying one of the greatest untold love stories in American politics.

In 1932, New York City, top reporter Lorena “Hick” Hickok starts each day with a front page byline―and finishes it swigging bourbon and planning her next big scoop.

But an assignment to cover FDR’s campaign―and write a feature on his wife, Eleanor―turns Hick’s hard-won independent
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Average rating 3.90  · 
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 ·  294 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY is actually the third fictional account I have read about Lorena "Hick" Hickok and Eleanor Roosevelt. And, I would, without any problems, read at least three more. I find both women fascinating to read about and I like reading new books that take a different look at their relationship.

Lori Spielman
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I adored this sensitively-written novel. McNees is a master of historical detail, and Eleanor and Lorena come alive in this tender story of love and friendship, hope and heartbreak. The stakes couldn't be higher for Eleanor and Lorena, making this page-turning story of forbidden love so bittersweet. Highly recommend.
Renee Rosen
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Kelly O'Connor McNees is simply a beautiful writer. I have adored all her novels and have eagerly been awaiting the release of Undiscovered Country. She has a way of capturing characters and setting that stay with you long after you've turned the last page. I can't wait to see what she does next!
Janelle Bailey
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
72: Undiscovered Country by Kelly O'Connor McNees...a "gift" from the Book of the Month Club with a deadline for reading and a survey to be completed (an opportunity and assignment I COMPLETELY relished!). This beautifully and well told fictional story is based on the volume of correspondence exchanged between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok, an AP journalist assigned to FDR and his wife during his Presidential campaign. I struggle with the genre, honestly, that is neither true non-fiction ...more
I would love to read a book about Eleanor and Hick that a) was actually about their romance and b) in Eleanor's POV.

The second one is personal preference, but I am reading these books because I got interested in Eleanor, so they're not really scratching that itch. The second one . . . they got together SO QUICKLY. And Hick was pretty much out, but was it really that easy for Eleanor??? I wanted some actual falling in love!

Oh, and Queer + Historical for Ripped Bodice bingo.
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great look behind the curtain at a relationship that has not been covered extensively.
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love the perceptive writing of Kelly O'Connor McNees and the empathy she feels for her characters; I also have always been fascinated by Eleanor Roosevelt but knew almost nothing about her love story with Lorena Hickok until I read Kelly's novel. How richly she writes the story, whether telling of smoke-filled newsrooms, dingy hotels, strained White House dinners and guestroom luxury, naked starving children across America and or the affinity and love two very different women find with each ...more
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
A beautifully written book that captures the soul of a relationship. It’s told through the eyes of Lorena ’Hick’ Hickok, an intimate friend of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and, at one point, the country’s best known female reporter. Her conflicted feelings about covering the First Lady for the Associated Press as she became emotionally involved are touchingly rendered. And even though the author clearly takes some narrative license, the words and actions between the two women never step beyond ...more
Charlene Nelson
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished
What a terrific look at the life of two very interesting women. One is so famous that some people have always tried to hide and ignore certain things about her and the other seems to have been lost in history. Kelly O'Connor McNees has really brought to life this short period in the lives of Lorena Hickox and Eleanor Roosevelt, that I felt that many things were made clearer for me. I have always been aware of the whispers about Mrs Roosevelt and her particular friend, so I wasn't surprised to ...more
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Imminently readable and relatable. I like when historic fiction makes me want to learn more about the actual historic figures in the book. After reading this novel, I wanted to learn more about Hick and her role in Eleanor’s life and Roosevelt’s White House.

I highly recommend this book if you’re at all interested in the Great Depression, the Roosevelts, women in journalism, lesbians in the 1930s, or the domestic arrangements of the wealthy. It’s a solid read.
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Tender and heartbreaking love story. Loved the writing, only criticism is it went by too fast.
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs
Posting at 1.45am because I finished this ten minutes ago, having started it this evening. I didn't want to leave smart, passionate, generous-hearted Lorena Hickok. Now the book is done and I miss her. A novel that imagines one version of the intense yet semi-mysterious relationship between journalist Hickok (as out as she could manage in 1932) and new First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, based on extant letters between them. Whether a deep friendship or a love affair may never be known for certain, ...more
Apr 08, 2018 marked it as gave-up
There’s nothing wrong with this book, except that it can’t hold a candle to White Houses. Might return to it someday.
Debbie Shoulders
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The relationship of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and AP Journalist Lorena Hickock has inspired several novels. In this one McNees chooses a clear focus and helps the reader understand at least Hickok's point of view. When Hicks, as she was called, got too close to the first family she was let go from the Associated Press. Eleanor got her a job at the White House asking her to report on the conditions of those most affected by the Great Depression. In one case Hick's investigation led to the ...more
Judith Leipold
May 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
Actually finished this book a week ago. The book left me with many unanswered questions. As a novel I shouldn't expect more, but since the book focused on the relationship of two prominent women I wanted more. I grew up in a household where both FDR and Eleanor were worshipped for their liberal thinking by the standards of the time. To read a fictionalized account of these personalities and the programs they proposed left me wanting to know where the line was drawn? The hook here was the ...more
Jenny Moore
Jul 10, 2018 rated it liked it
This was compelling and readable, with an engaging first-person narrative. It would have benefited from a more historically accurate portrayal of the protagonist, Hick. The author left out some aspects of her work with the Works Progress Administration, such as attitudes and reportage that would now be considered racist and could have contributed to the inequities and even overtly racist policies of some New Deal programs.

That said, this is a good book for introducing the concept of people
Nancy Hawkins
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the third book I have read about the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok. Each book gives you a different aspect of their lives and relationship. This novel spends a great deal of time on the reality of the depression and the building of Arthurdale for the rural poor. It is written from the perspective of Hickok, which is the norm for these books of historical fiction. I did like this book, but there were times the story became soap opera-ish. The author points out ...more
Anne-Marie Chandler
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: romance, loved
actually I want to give this 8 stars. I ABSOLUTELY loved this novel expanding on real events in Eleanor Roosevelt's life and her love for Hick. YES they were lovers. Franklin had affairs and Eleanor caught him with her secretary and she told him she still loved him and would not leave him but she would never be his lover again and to keep his love life secretive from that day forward. Hick and Eleanor helped the poor people in the Catskills and the Arthurdale project began the public housing ...more
Megan Geissler
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
I didn't finish this book. I have a hard time understanding the high ratings - is it because it's "based on a true story" about a high profile figure, in this case, Eleanor Roosevelt? Is it that it features influential female characters and attempts to fill a void? Maybe, but the writing was just so cliche that I couldn't commit to seeing this through to the end. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't good, either. I actually usually enjoy historical fiction but this just missed the mark for me. Maybe ...more
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written novel. I wish I could give it 6 stars. McNees’s use of metaphor and vivid imagery is exquisite. The use of first-person narrative and Lorena Hickock’s voice to tell the story is spot-on and the treatment of the well documented relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok (Hick) is realistic, sensitive and wrenching. I laughed out loud a few times and ached for the characters in other places. You get hooked early and can’t help but love Hick and her ...more
Andrea D
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a great story. I love the author’s writing, it’s so eloquent and I can really feel what she is saying. I have never in my life felt so moved by anything written in a book to motivate me to write it down until now....

“It was a strange point of pride to have a problem so broken it couldn’t be fixed, even by a woman who was known for solving impossible problems on a grand scale. My wounds, I realized, were precious to me; if she told me there was a way to heal them, I feared I might
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
This was my first read about Eleanor Roosevelt.
I learned a lot about what she did for the country with the help of Lorena Hick.
At the end, I was disappointed because I wanted to know more about their relationship and also more about Eleanor's influence during her husband's presidency.
I will continue reading about Eleanor Roosevelt.
I didn't find any interview with the author, so I don't know how she did her research regarding the love letters and Lorena Hick.
Nancy Karwatka
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting story about Eleanor Roosevelt and her companion Lorena Hickok (Hick). A subject which I knew nothing about. Even though I really enjoyed reading this book, I felt like it was just a snippet of the story about both Eleanor and Hick. The story left me wanting more.

Very interesting to read about events that happened back in that time period. Well written book and good character development, just felt like I was left hanging at the end.
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eye opening book written about Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok from "Hick's" perspective. They had a loving, physical relationship, as well as a productive working relationship, when Eleanor was the first lady. Eleanor and Franklin, it seems, had an open marriage, as well as 6 children. It was a surprise to me, as that seems to be skipped over in any American history books I read in school.
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully intelligent writing with a comprehension of the entanglements of the past with our present. This author has written characters that breathe off the page, characters who speak for themselves. There's a spark here that just might "engender the imagination that has so far failed us."
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fictionalized story of Lorena Hickok and Eleanor Roosevelt. Their love story is sweet and real --filled with passion and problems, as you can imagine them having during that time and with being the President's wife and all...

A lovely quick read.

Gail Sacharski
Jun 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Have been working up to reading biography of Eleanor Roosevelt Pts. 1 & 2 & her autobiography so this was like an hors d'oeuvre. Interesting historical data while being a fictional imagining of her relationship with Lorena Hickok.
Jane Appelbaum
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Times, they are a Changing

The story of a new reporter and her evolving relationship with Mrs. E Rosevelt is both heart warming and heartbreaking .
Describing the conditions in the Depression era of America, this book brings to life a time most wish to forget.
Apr 19, 2018 rated it liked it
I'd give this 2 1/2 stars if I could. I'm not a huge fan of biographical fiction - in this case the story of forbidden love in 1932 perhaps would have been more compelling if it hadn't been Roosevelt & Hicks.
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
I thought it was well done and gave more heart to the story than others on the same topic. Hick became more human, complete with her faults. I kind of wished it had three or four more chapters, the rest of the story.
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Kelly O’Connor McNees grew up in Lansing, Michigan, and holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Michigan and a master’s in English education from DePaul University. A former seventh-grade teacher and editorial assistant, Kelly runs a busy editorial business called Word Bird Editorial Services, through which she helps authors of all stripes improve their craft and ...more