Our Book Of The Month for August is White Houses by Amy Bloom. For our online Book Clubbers we have some questions around the book for you to get involved with. Either answer below or use as discussion points at your next Book Club. Happy Book Clubbing!
“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 reinvented herself as the most prominent woman reporter in America, “Hick,” as she’s known to her friends and admirers, is not quite instantly charmed by the idealistic, patrician Eleanor. But then, as her connection with the future first lady deepens into intimacy, what begins as a powerful passion matures into a lasting love, and a life that Hick never expected to have. She moves into the White House, where her status as “first friend” is an open secret. As are FDR’s own lovers.
After she takes a job in the Roosevelt administration, promoting and protecting both Roosevelts, she comes to know Franklin not only as a great president but as a complicated rival and an irresistible friend, capable of changing lives even after his death. Through it all, even as Hick’s bond with Eleanor is tested by forces both extraordinary and common, and as she grows as a woman and a writer, she never loses sight of the love of her life.“
The following are written with the presumption you have read White Houses. If you haven’t, bookmark the post for now so you can come back and answer the questions later.
- “To have a little white house on someone else’s pretty property” The obvious reference to ‘White Houses’ is the presidential home, yet more than one white house is referred to in the book. How important are the houses to the story? What do they represent?
- Hick likens herself to a dog, slavishly devoted to Eleanor and obedient (pg87/88). Hick also refers to Missy, Roosevelt’s secretary, as a dog stating on her death that Roosevelt ate her up “those were his bones“. Do you think Hick was right in these descriptions? Did the Roosevelts treat people like dogs? Deliberately?
- Did the book highlight any areas of history that you previously were unaware of? Were you aware of Eleanor’s relationship with Hick beforehand?
- The Roosevelt’s were a couple both rumoured to be cheating on each other with multiple dalliances on both sides noted over the years. When reading, were you more accepting of Eleanor’s affair than Franklin’s? Is this because we saw things from Hick’s point of view? Did Missy’s depth of devotion change your mind?
- The descriptions and writing provided by Bloom are beautiful with the final paragraph being our particular favourite. What was your favourite passage/quote?
Get Involved with White Houses
Feel free to answer as many of the questions as you like, it’s not an all or nothing thing. Post your replies below, discuss with us on social media using @BookSocialUK, or pose some questions of your own. If you enjoyed answering our White Houses questions, have a go at our last month’s Get Involved: Amor Towles, A Gentleman In Moscow
And come back tomorrow to read our #BigReview of White Houses.