The “Eleanor” of the title is, of course, Eleanor Roosevelt. She had most difficult early years and went on to live a truly remarkable life. How did Eleanor go from a child so alone in the world, an orphan at an early age whose mother ridiculed her and whose father loved her but suffered from alcoholism and an inability to cope with life, to a most admired woman? What was it like to be sent to school in England? What did it mean to have an uncle who was larger than life and a president? To fall in love with an ambitious, pampered cousin who could not be faithful and who also had serious health challenges? How did Eleanor go from an insecure young woman to a woman who was among the most admired in the world, a surrogate for Franklin and a first lady throughout WWII? Who did she lean on and love once she knew that Franklin had affections elsewhere?
All of these questions come under the scrutiny of Mr. Michaelis who has written an engaging and very readable biography of Eleanor. It covers her whole life and finds the sweet space between a serious biography and an absorbing read. I recommend it highly.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this read in exchange for an honest review.
Pub date: October 6, 2020
Of note, readers of this title may also enjoy the novel White Houses by Amy Bloom, Franklin and Lucy by Joseph Persico (non-fiction), Lucy by Ellen Feldman (fiction) and the biography of Eleanor by Blanche Wiesen Cook. I have read them all and have reviewed White Houses on the blog.