Blog Book Tour | “Loving Eleanor” by Susan Wittig Albert

Posted Monday, 30 May, 2016 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! I received a complimentary used copy of “Loving Eleanor” direct from the author Susan Wittig Albert in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read ‘Loving Eleanor’:

I admit I’ve been charmed by the previous releases on behalf of Ms Albert, especially a nod towards her China Bayles series as I am a tea drinker who loves reading Cosy Mysteries – however, even her Cottage Tales and the Historicals she’s written with her husband have fetched my eye! I even have the first of the China Bayles series – still awaiting me to peruse it’s chapters, as I originally began reading it during a readathon in August of 2013 when I first launched Jorie Loves A Story live to the world – who knew in a few months, I’d be celebrating my third blog birthday so soon after my third blogoversary this past March?

I was especially pleased to see the author moving into the curious branch of writing Biographical Historical Fiction – as this is a particular preference of mine as a reader! I have oft-times mentioned how I seek out these kinds of stories for the fusion of reality, history and a closely personal touch of insight on behalf of the person who lived whose come back to life against the pages! I love soaking into the shoes of living persons, feeling their emotional connection to their lives and watching how things played out for them.

For me, I find I have hours of enjoyment nestled inside a Biographical Historical Fiction novel – one nod of assurance in this regard is how many lovelies I’ve previously found and devoured, whilst finding Ms Albert is writing about the women I most want to know more about! I have appreciated Eleanor Roosevelt since I was a young girl – she was extraordinary due to how she broke tradition and how she lived a life on her terms. I never could quite put my finger on which biography to read first, until I saw this book come into my life! I thought for once, I finally have found the right author who can pen the truer story behind who Eleanor was in her private life!

Thus, it’s quite fitting, this shall be the first novel I’ve read in full by Susan Wittig Albert! I know I will be picking up her mysteries, if my thoughts on behalf of Tea & Crumples are any indication of how I love reading about ‘tea, life and conversations’ – yet, what strikes my fancy moreso than the mysteries themselves, is to find a copy of A Wilder Rose! I grew up on the Little House series, inasmuch as I adored the Little House novels – I think it would be quite champion to read her cleverly written biographical historicals ahead of her mainstay releases!

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Blog Book Tour | “Loving Eleanor” by Susan Wittig AlbertLoving Eleanor
Subtitle: The intimate friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok
by Susan Wittig Albert
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

When AP political reporter Lorena Hickok—Hick—is assigned to cover Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the wife of the 1932 Democratic presidential candidate, the two women become deeply, intimately involved. Their relationship begins with mutual romantic passion, matures through stormy periods of enforced separation and competing interests, and warms into an enduring, encompassing friendship that ends only with both women’s deaths in the 1960s—all of it documented by 3300 letters exchanged over thirty years.

Now, New York Times bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert recreates the fascinating story of Hick and Eleanor, set during the chaotic years of the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Second World War. Loving Eleanor is Hick’s personal story, revealing Eleanor as a complex, contradictory, and entirely human woman who is pulled in many directions by her obligations to her husband and family and her role as the nation’s First Lady, as well as by a compelling need to care and be cared for. For her part, Hick is revealed as an accomplished journalist, who, at the pinnacle of her career, gives it all up for the woman she loves. Then, as Eleanor is transformed into Eleanor Everywhere, First Lady of the World, Hick must create her own independent, productive life.

Drawing on extensive research in the letters that were sealed for a decade following Hick’s death, Albert creates a compelling narrative: a dramatic love story, vividly portraying two strikingly unconventional women, neither of whom is satisfied to live according to the script society has written for her. Loving Eleanor is a profoundly moving novel that illuminates a relationship we are seldom privileged to see and celebrates the depth and durability of women’s love.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780989203531

Also by this author: The Darling Dahlias series Novels 1-6-7

Genres: Biographical Fiction, Biography / Autobiography, Historical Fiction

Published by Persevero Press

on 1st February, 2016

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 306

Published By: Persevero Press
(author directed publishing platform)

Formats Available: Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #LovingEleanor

About Susan Wittig Albert

Susan Wittig Albert

Susan Wittig Albert is the award-winning, NYT bestselling author of the forthcoming historical novel Loving Eleanor (2016), about the intimate friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok; and A Wilder Rose (2014), about Rose Wilder Lane and the writing of the Little House books.

Her award-winning fiction also includes mysteries in the China Bayles series, the Darling Dahlias, the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries she has written with her husband, Bill Albert, under the pseudonym of Robin Paige.

She has written two memoirs: An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days and Together, Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place, published by the University of Texas Press.

Her nonfiction titles include What Wildness is This: Women Write About the Southwest (winner of the 2009 Willa Award for Creative Nonfiction); Writing from Life: Telling the Soul’s Story; and Work of Her Own: A Woman’s Guide to Success Off the Career Track.

She is founder and current president (2015-2017) of the Story Circle Network and a member of the Texas Institute of Letters.

Site for A Wilder Rose
Site for China Bayles series | Site for Darling Dahlias series | Site for the Cottage Tales series
Mystery Novels with her husband
Story Circle

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My review of Loving Eleanor:

We greet Hicks* quite bereft from Eleanor’s passing, her loss only just occurring and leaving in it’s wake such a break in Hicks’ emotional state to where she cannot see clearly through her downfall of tears. Her conviction of how much Eleanor meant to her and how much her loss was going to deepen as the days moved forward, only strengthened the earnest curiosity to learn more (on my behalf) about how these two strong women first crossed paths. Left behind with the decades worth of letters they had shared amongst themselves, Hicks is bent on keeping their privacy intact for as long as she can, yet how to go about preserving something everyone would be curious to learn was another matter entirely. We’re presented with how Hicks went through settling her heart through it’s grief whilst trying to own the realistic truth something had to be done about the letters, too.

In many ways, she was contemplating if the world was ready for the truth to be cast into the light – to allow her and Eleanor’s friendship to become fully known to the family and the country; would they understand or would it cause more harm than good to have it all revealled now that Eleanor was gone? It’s a weight she took seriously to contemplate but also one, I think, if she could have sidestepped she might have preferred it. I had to think to myself if the two ever spoke about ‘what if’ one of them departs before the other and how best to handle that situation? Not that many people want to talk about ‘end of life’ affairs, but it does present it’s challenges! It is how she fashioned out the idea to preserve their legacy but place a marker of time on the letters (if this truly worked, it was a brilliant idea!) I felt was quite clever on behalf of Hicks!

We exit the present and find time slipping back into the past, as we enter their lives in 1928 – I was hoping Albert might have taken us back through their history, letting us see how their lives merged and how to each of them, they were unexpectedly surprised to have found strength in each other. We emerge into Hicks’ life at the AP where she was trying to make headway into meeting with Eleanor for the first time; a curiosity for the press, a woman out of her time who was living a life no one had seen before and a subject for a story Hicks knew would shine! Her heart was in the press – she lived on the edge of where her stories would take her and the connections she would need to make in order to make her deadlines happen! It was a difficult world in one regard, women were not as readily welcome in the press, and Hicks made her own headlines by refusing to let an industry take her off the stories she knew she was meant to be writing!

Hicks saw something in Eleanor – a mirror of a mask she knew vividly on the outset of seeing it, as it was one she had used herself. Each of the women were hiding things from public view and keeping bits of themselves out-of-sight for fear of how they might be interpreted by others. They each had a sharp mind and wit, but how to be who they were without garnishing the wrong impressions by everyone else? You can start to see the taxing ramifications of having to walk such a tight rope between their duties and desires; to strike a balance somewhere along the way but without forsaking their spirit in the process.

We slip forward a bit in time after their initial meeting – straight into the Thirties, wherein FDR’s political career is shifting forward as well – he had just completed his four years as the Governor. Despite the time slips arriving in planned intervals, I never felt Albert was rushing the telling of the story. Albert had found a way to highlight the necessary bits per each blockage of time, and then, allowed the women themselves to dictate where to go next. It felt very instinctively written, guided by the spirit of the women and of a life they were each a bit mystified on how to share with anyone outside their confidence.

Eleanor and Hicks fell into sync with one another – they were lifting each others’ resolve as much as they were creating joy inside lives they were living that felt a bit empty around the edges. They each had difficult upbringings; in Eleanor’s case I hadn’t realised she was the niece of Theodore and thereby, her surname and maiden never changed. It felt almost to me as if Eleanor was pushed forward into a role she had never auditioned nor ever wanted to entertain being hers. Too often women were cast into lives they had little to no say about and then, somewhere along the route of their futures, they had to carve out a piece of their sanity; to live in freedom of what was controlled. Eleanor and Hicks understood each other, but they also knew what each needed to talk about before the other tipped the hand.

Hicks had to take on an especially difficult assignment, as penitence if you will for their relationship when it became known to FDR; the time she spent in West Virginia anguished her soul, but it was her connection to Eleanor she felt gave her the compassion she was missing. Her life in the press had hardened her almost past where she could feel; thus, her time spent with Eleanor had softened her spirit and allowed her to feel things she had unwillingly missed previously.

As things started to change for Eleanor (in regards to her obligations and her projects), Hicks found herself in a position of change – a credit to her, she did not allow herself to feel pity or the full rejection that anyone else might have felt compelled to wallow in. Hicks instead, continued on with her own pursuits and found her work humbling as much as it was enriching; she was kept on the brink of the after effects of the Great Depression but also, how the country was at risk as much as it was attempting to progress forward through hard-won change. Eleanor in difference to Hicks, simply wanted to live outside her husband’s shadow and truly wanted to embrace who ‘Eleanor’ was but without truly being given that option until after his Presidency. Each of them, were anchoured to each other for what they could respectively give back to each other, but their lives threw a wench in their happiness. They each had to follow their own paths, even if those paths took them away and reunited them lateron.

It’s a startling somber story about two women who lived during a period of history where being yourself was not as paramount to keeping up the appearance of whom the public knew you to be – it was a dicey game of hiding in plain sight and owning your own truth behind closed doors. I found Hicks and Eleanor’s story quite sad to read as a whole, with periods of uplift and small flickerings of joy, too.

*I tried writing her name as it was used ‘Hick’ but it felt she was more of a ‘Hicks’ with those who were familiar around her and using Lorena felt wrong somehow to the life she lived. Either that or I just felt like calling her ‘Hicks’ as that’s how she read to me.

On the writing style of Susan Wittig Albert:

Albert has found a way to bring forward the voices of the past, in such a way, they are humbling realistic – even though I haven’t known anything about the backstory on behalf of Eleanor nor Hicks, I must commend the manner in which Albert fused their likeness into the story! You can see how through her extensive research, the two women emerged out of the shadows and granted her the space she needed to tell their stories. The flow of the novel is lovingly guided by the knowledge of what happened and how everything came together before it fell apart for both of the women who inspired Albert to write this story.

I loved the vibrant way in which she introduced us to Hicks lifestyle and the way in which she loved the hunt for the story whilst carrying herself through a man’s field but not letting herself get down about it. Albert totally immersed us into the back-story of both women, through the lens of Hicks and that was such a brilliant turning of the story’s arc for me, as it was a healthy way in which to re-approach a partially known premise by having your focus taken through the one person who understood Eleanor best. I even liked how we had bits of history and timeline milestones thrown in at different intervals to cross-relate the era in which the women were living. It resonated with me about what the atmosphere was in America but also, the life and times of where they were when they were starting to get to know each other as well.

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBT

Follow the Virtual Road Map by visiting the blog tour route:

I was hoping to be bring the conversation I had with Ms Albert to this tour; it was originally meant to be featured the day after my review. Unfortunately, in the afternoon of the 31st I received the news, our conversation had to be unexpectedly cancelled. I had a lovely time assembling the questions and had looked forward to Ms Albert’s responses – however, these things can happen and I am simply blessed I was able to ‘greet’ the story and help my readers find the hidden story about Hicks & Eleanor; it was an emotional read but one that deserves the merit of being read; these women led courageous lives which should be known.

Loving Eleanor blog tour via HFVBTs

 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Loving Eleanor”, book synopsis, author biography of Susan Wittig Albert, author photograph, the tour host badge & HFVBTs badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Tweets were able to be embedded by the codes provided by Twitter. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2016.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Monday, 30 May, 2016 by jorielov in 20th Century, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Eleanor Roosevelt, Equality In Literature, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Indie Author, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Lorena Hickok, Passionate Researcher, Self-Published Author, Time Slip, Writing Style & Voice

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