I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review
Published: February 1, 2016
Number of pages: 306
Genre: Historical Fiction
Synopsis: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.
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1. Who or what inspired you to start writing?I think I was born with a pencil in my hand. I wrote my first “novel” when I was nine, and sold my first short story (called “My First Violin”) when I was still in high school. Writing has always been my way of processing experience and finding my way in the world. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I couldn’t write.
2. What do you do to help you get over writer's block?
That’s never been a problem for me. If I’m not clear about where I’m going with a piece of writing, I start writing and write until I discover where I’m going. Sometimes I have to backtrack or rethink, but most of the time, I can just go ahead. I usually work in longform (novel length), and the story has a certain momentum. It carries me forward--or carries itself forward, I’m not always sure which. If I’m truly stuck, I go back several pages and revise, moving forward. That usually carries me into new territory.
3. Do you have scheduled writing time or a certain amount of words you write each day?
I’m lucky enough to be able to write full-time--and I do consider myself fortunate to be able to do that! Since writing is my “job,” I treat it like a job. I work a full day, 8-5, with an hour off for lunch (and occasional breaks to do the laundry, make a bed, do some garden work, etc.). I can’t write all that time, since there are always other writing chores to do: marketing projects, promoting, managing the websites, and working in social media. If I’m writing a mystery, I typically aim for about 1200-1500 words a day. If I’m writing historical fiction, about 800-1000 words, depending on the research requirements.
4. Where do you get your ideas for your books?
Everywhere! From television, movies, newspapers, magazines, from books books books books books. From friends and family and people I meet. From my past experiences, from my dreams and imaginings, from the big, wide, amazing world we live in. Ideas are everywhere--all we have to do is look and listen.
5. When you are not writing what do you like to do?
I love needlework, especially needlepoint and cross stitch. My husband Bill and I live on 31 acres in the Texas Hill Country, where I have a large veggie garden and a flock of laying chickens. Over the years, we’ve had an assortment of animals here: cows, horses, geese, ducks, peacocks--and of course cats and dogs. They’re all an important part of my life.
6. What one piece of advice would you like to give to aspiring writers?
Read. Read read read read read. And then read some more. Mark up your books. Make notes in them so that the next time you read them, you’ll see what interested you—and you can add more notes.
7. Who is your favorite author or book that you would like to recommend to your readers?
I’m a huge Jane Austen fan. I never get tired of her novels. Every time I read one, I learn something new about her work--and about writing.
8. If you could meet any famous person dead or alive who would it be and why?
Journalist Lorena Hickok! I just published a book about her friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt. I’d love to sit down with her and learn more about her life--some things I couldn’t find out from the many letters she exchanged with Eleanor or from the hundreds of newspaper articles she wrote.
9. If you could visit anywhere in the world where would you like to visit? I went to grad school at Berkeley. I’d love to go back to the Bay Area and connect with old friends.
10. Five interesting facts about yourself
I’ve been with the same mystery publisher (Penguin/Berkley Prime Crime) for 25 years, and had the same editor for most of that time.
My series, the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, have been translated into Russian and Japanese.
My husband and I co-authored a dozen Victorian mysteries under the pseudonym of Robin Paige.
I have been Carolyn Keene--and Franklin W. Dixon.
I’ve flown gliders and raced sailboats on San Francisco Bay.
About the Author: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.
For more information please visit www.susanalbert.com and www.LovingEleanor.com, or read her blog. You can also find Susan on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, andPinterest. Like the Loving Eleanor page on Facebook.
Three copies of Loving Eleanor by Sisan Wittig Albert are up for grabs! To enter, please use the GLEAM form below.
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