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White Houses

3.34  ·  Rating details ·  12,705 ratings  ·  1,792 reviews
For readers of The Paris Wife and The Swans of Fifth Avenue comes 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 reinven
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 13th 2018 by Random House Large Print Publishing
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3.34  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,705 ratings  ·  1,792 reviews

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Larry H
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Fifty-five years after her death, and more than 70 years after she left the White House following her husband's death, Eleanor Roosevelt remains one of the most intriguing women in history. She certainly was a role model for trailblazing women not interested in being confined to the boxes in which society wants to contain them, but rather working to bring about change wherever it is needed.

While much is known about her public persona, her personal life has always remained more of an enigma. Mor
Elyse Walters
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The writing by Amy Bloom in “White Houses” is beautiful.....soooo lovely!!!

We learn a lot about Lorena Hickok, American journalist: her troubled childhood in South Dakota of sexual abuse - abandonment- poverty - and starting out on her own from an early age.

Lorena also disclosed her relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt. — All from Lorena Hickok’s perspective. Sure feels real to me... but it’s written as fiction. Amy Bloom did tremendous research - she went through three THOUSAND letters alone -
Angela M
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whenever I read fictionalized accounts of famous people I always wonder about what really happened. I especially wonder about their conversations and I have to keep reminding myself that I'm reading a work of fiction. Amy Bloom in this wonderfully written book, imagines the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lenora Hickok, an AP reporter who becomes Eleanor's "first friend" and actually for a time moves into the White House. While I did wonder here what actually happened and what was ima ...more
Oct 27, 2017 rated it liked it

I forgot, folks, I forgot!

I forgot I don’t like historical fiction that’s based on famous people. Why was my memory snoozing when I picked up this book? I remember (of course, too late) that I swore off reading such books after I finished Twain's End and suddenly thought Mark Twain was a jerk. I used to like Mark Twain, but after reading that book, where it shows how he ruined his mistress’s life, I hate his guts. I even researched the facts a little, and yep, it appears he really was a basta
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
5 starting-my-new-year-in-reading-with-an-absolute-BANG 🎉 💥 🎇 stars to White Houses 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

My grandmother had a saying that what you were doing when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve is what you will be doing all year long. I always thought it was some kind of scare tactic. 😂 I shared that with some of my book friends, and they were told a similar saying, but instead it’s what you do on New Year’s Day. I’ll take that and run with it because I was reading this book on that day, and
Diane S ☔
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 A fly on the wall, that is how I felt reading this novel. Told from the viewpoint of Hick, we are privvy to intimate glimpses of her relationship with Eleanor, as well as glimpses into the secrets of those living in the White House. Roosevelt and his harem, as Hick calls them, the way his polio was hidden, and the relationship he and Eleanor had with their children.

The book opens a short time after Roosevelt's death, and circles back to this period often. This is very much Hicks story though
Dec 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a work of fiction based on the relationship of Eleanor Roosevelt and her long time friend and companion, Lorena Hickock. Lorena’s voice narrates this story.
They both seemed to be lost souls that found together, what they both never had in life, and it was written in a beautiful and intimate way.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for the advanced copy!

“In many dreams I've held you near,
Now, at last, you're really here.
“Where have you been?
I've looked for you forever and a day
Where have you been?
I'm just not myself when you're away”

-- Where Have You Been lyrics by Kathy Mattea

When Franklin D. Roosevelt was campaigning to become the 32nd President, Lorena Hickok was one of many reporters covering his campaign. Through this, she meets, and is befriended by Eleanor Roosevelt, despite their vast differences, economically an
Feb 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This is a fictionalized account of the friendship, and probable lesbian relationship, between Lenora Hickok (“Hick”), a journalist, and Eleanor Roosevelt. The author tells the story through Lenora’s eyes and what I enjoyed the most are the historical details: the Lindburgh kidnapping, the camp the Roosevelts founded for victims of polio, the marriage between Franklin and Eleanor, FDR’s affairs, the Roosevelt children…and more.

I enjoyed Hick’s voice and the details of her abusive childhood gave
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
White Houses is a fictionalized account of Eleanor Roosevelt's relationship with Lorena Hickok. The novel is narrated from Hickok's perspective. It's more of a character study than a story. Hickok recounts part of her childhood, and moves back and forth in time, always coming back to the few days following FDR's death. What made this worth reading to me were the writing and the sharply drawn personalities of these characters. Bloom makes it easy to understand what drew these women together and p ...more
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley

This book details the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and “first friend” Lenora Hickok. The book is written from Hick’s point of view. It’s not told in a linear fashion, but more as a series of memories.

When Hick focuses on her opinion about others, I loved it. The comments about Lindbergh, Wallis Simpson and even the Roosevelt children are priceless. In these paragraphs, her ability as a newspaperwoman comes shining through. She captured Eleanor’s character to the point you felt you cou
Roman Clodia
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
I said that the Potsdam diner was a delight. She said that after the funeral there was corned beef and cabbage and homemade beer. She said the service was Irish Catholic and heartfelt. I hung up my coat and made a show of taking out my notebook and doing my job, and asking about her husband's ambitions.

Lordy lord, if you can manage to read such flat, 'told', random prose then you're more tolerant than I am. I'm really intrigued by this relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and 'Hick', a lesbi
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
White Houses is a timely read which I don’t think Amy Bloom could have predicted. In response to a recent immigration border policy separating children and parents, First Ladies from past to present spoke out. If Eleanor Roosevelt was still alive, her voice might be the loudest. Secondly, June is Pride month and I can’t help but think how Lorena would relish that with Eleanor and her linking arms.

The narration of White Houses is Lorena Hickok’s point of view. There is the backstory of Lorena’s y
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 strong written stars

Eleanor Roosevelt...what person does not know that name? Wife of the longest serving president, humanitarian, mother to six children and wife to a philanderer of a husband. Speaking out as first lady, she became a woman working for the good of the poor, the downtrodden. She spoke out against racial discrimination. She was a paragon of virtue, intelligence, often using mass media to publicize the plight of many. She was also, as stated by this book and through her various
Feb 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 stars
Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced ebook in exchange for an honest review.

A touching fictionalized story about the love affair between First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and writer Lorena Hickok. Amy Bloom tells the story of the two women through Lorena's eyes as she recounts their past and present romantic relationship.

You see me.You see all of me and I don't think you love everything you see. I hope you do, but I doubt you do. But, you see me. The whole person. Not just yourself, refle
Brenda - Traveling Sister
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
White Houses has been sitting on my shelf for some time and finally, I grabbed it off my shelf and found a grassy, shady spot to hide in a coulee till I finished reading this story

Amy Bloom beautifully captures the hidden love between Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena “Hick” Hickok. She does a fanatic job creating a compelling picture of the relationship between these very different women from different backgrounds. Though Hick’s perspective she brings to life their relationship while givi
This is a work of historical fiction about first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and her romantic relationship with American journalist Lorena Hickok (nicknamed "Hick"). Born in Wisconsin, Hickok triumphed over a disastrous childhood to eventually become a reporter for the Associated Press (AP). She was assigned to cover Franklin D. Roosevelt's first presidential campaign when she established a close friendship with the future First Lady.

I had an unusual experience reading this book in that I tore throu
This fictional portrayal of the love relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and a journalist who joined the White House staff as her PR writer, Lorena Hickok, was fun to read. Told from the perspective of Lorena (known as “Hick”), we get a “fly on the wall” window into Eleanor’s personal life in the early period of FDR’s presidency, a long period of separation, and a renewal of close relations after Franklin dies. Hick comes off as a straight-shooter in honesty to all her friends, often sprightl ...more
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"No love like old love."
-'White Houses' by Amy Bloom

Much has been written about the Roosevelt family over the years; in particular, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor. And much has been written about the Roosevelts' marriage. President Roosevelt's extramarital affairs have been whispered about, scrutinized and have also been the subject of various books. But what about Eleanor? Eleanor Roosevelt, being an intelligent, independent and outspoken fighter for her husband's polici
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just started listening to the audio; the narrator is perfect!!!

This has to be Amy Bloom's best and most beautiful book yet. She left her heart on its pages, especially the heart of Lorena Hickok. Most of us know what an incredible woman Eleanor Roosevelt was as First Lady to FDR and later in her own right, stepped out from behind her husband's shadow. Eleanor was a tireless giver, to her family, her husband, her children, the people of this country, and even the world. She fought for the downtro
RoseMary Achey
Mar 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
How can a love story have no emotion? None, zero, zip. The characters were flat and devoid of any humanization. Wow...can't believe this one actually made it from manuscript to published work.
3.5 stars.

This is a love story, one not like any romance I have ever read where my eyes roll at the sugary sweet dialog. Amy Bloom writes of love as if it's a part of the most beautiful birds, flowers, and sunsets found in nature. I found her descriptions just breathtaking.

This is a forbidden love between the First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and a female journalist known as Hick. To read the author's take on their relationship, their intimate moments, you understand it fully even though Bloom took t
Jennifer Blankfein
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I haven’t stopped thinking about this gem of a book, the powerful telling of an unconventional love story by author Amy Bloom. White Houses is historical fiction, based on research and letters exchanged between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok, a journalist who was invited to live in the White House in an adjoining bedroom to the first lady’s room during FDR’s presidency. A story of soulmates – two, independent, bright and powerful women in a lesbian relationship – a hidden secret to the worl ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I was really looking forward to this book. I'm a longtime fan of Amy Bloom, and like how she writes somewhat quirky people inside relationships.

I like the idea of reading the untold story of the unknown (but open secret) lesbian lover of one of the greatest first ladies we've ever had in the United States.

But I think the author's lack of experience in writing historical fiction does not serve her well here. The pieces of the story are interesting but yet it is somehow not very well told.

It ma
In the end, or from the start, this really wasn't for me. I was excited to read this but it really fell flat almost from the start. It felt more like a desperate romance with focus on the physical and not the more emotional connection between two people that I expected. The timeline jumped all over the place and made the story feel disjointed. I know this book gets lots of love from other readers but it just didn't work for me at all.

Thank you to Netgalley and Random House for a copy of this eb
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
For me, the best part of "White Houses" is the depiction of the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickock, especially as they age. Bloom artfully contrasts the two women's backgrounds - poverty vs. privilege. On the surface they are an odd couple, but they make sense on these pages. Oh, yes - and FDR in the background - so well done! Bloom is a master at condensing a long complicated story and she did it beautifully here.
Betsy Robinson
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
After you’ve read a number of books by an author, you may be able to pinpoint where they hit you. For me, Amy Bloom’s luscious writing lands in my mouth. Specifically, my taste buds. And my mouth waters as I read as if I’ve been served my fantasy feast and it’s just for me and I can eat it as slowly or as quickly as I please and make all the private pleasure sounds you don’t make in public because this experience is mine, mine, mine—intimate and private.

Her new book, like her previous novels Awa
Diane Barnes
Feb 23, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a beautiful book in many ways. As a fictional biography of Lorena Hickok, it was superb, capturing her early life, her appearance, raspy voice, prickly personality; bringing to life a woman I had heard of because of her relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt, but never knew much about. It also brought to life what it must have been like to be in that White House inner circle during the Roosevelt administration, showing both Franklin and Eleanor as real people, warts and all. The behind the ...more
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
I first read about Lorena Hickok and Eleanor Roosevelt last year when I read Loving Eleanor by Susan Wittig Albert. It's a fabulous book, deep and well researched. And I loved it. So, when I learned about White Houses by Amy Bloom was I curious about how it would be. I'm glad to say that this one is also very good, well-written and engrossing.

I'm fascinated by the Roosevelt family and even though FDR is my favorite do I find Eleanor Roosevelt to be such an interesting woman. This book is a fict
Jar of Death Pick #5 (8th Finished)

Unexpected Readathon: Read a book with diverse rep

Soo....I liked White Houses but I didn't love it. Once I sat down to actually read it, I devoured it but something still stopped me from loving it.

White Houses is about the suspected(but never confirmed) romance between First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and her friend Lorena Hickok. Over the years there has been a lot of speculation about if Eleanor & Lorena were lovers. I think its likely that they were but it
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Amy Bloom is the author of "Come to Me," a National Book Award finalist; "A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You," nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award; "Love Invents Us"; and "Normal." Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Short Stories, The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction, and many other anthologies here and abroad. She has wri ...more
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“Every woman’s body is an intimate landscape. The hills, the valleys, the narrow ledges, the riverbanks, the sudden eruptions of soft or crinkling hair. Here are the plains, the fine dry slopes. Here are the woods, here is the smooth path to the only door I wish to walk through. Eleanor’s body is the landscape of my true home.” 5 likes
“I have been lonely in my life but never when drinking strong coffee, wearing my fleecy slippers, and standing in my own kitchen.” 5 likes
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