This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is a freebie–do your own thing with the topic. With Valentine’s Day this week, it is a Love Freebie. Since President’s Day is next week, I chose White House love!
First My All-Time Favorite White House Love Book
That I love this book in no way means I approve of the love affair! That wreaked havoc on the Roosevelt family–especially the children of FDR and Eleanor. And, technically, this affair occurred before FDR was president. Seeing that Lucy was with him when he died thought….well…. But this book! Oh, this book! It is so wonderful. The actions of the characters, the speech, all aspects of their being are in tune with the manners and mores of the time. It is so lovely and so believable. And so selfish. Too bad they could not see all the people they were hurting. Never mind–it’s a love story and an enduring one. Lucy by Ellen Feldman
There is a nonfiction book of note on this affair as well. Franklin & Lucy by Joseph E. Persic, which I enjoyed but did not review.
The One I Wrote More About
Grover Cleveland today might get lumped in with Jeffrey Epstein for saying “I’m waiting for her to grow up” in response to a question on why he wasn’t married! Our only president to serve non-consecutive terms, Cleveland is also known for being 49 when he married his 21-year-old ward, Miss Frances Folsom. We may judge this harshly today, but in 1886 many brides were much younger than their grooms. I’m sure many a social-climbing mother would have shoved her daughter at the president with high hopes. This little book, The Bride of the White House, tells the story of the Clevelands’ wedding. I’ve written a post about the couple here: Cross-Generational Romance in the White House.
The One With Only Women–Four Books
Eleanor Roosevelt was a classic abused and abandoned child. She found it hard to show and accept love, she struggled to trust anyone fully and couldn’t always give her true self away. She fell in love with her distant cousin Franklin, was as happy as she could let herself be in her marriage until he met Lucy Mercer [see above] and betrayed her trust forever. After the affair, Eleanor re-launched her life and that life included loving relationships with various women. Lorena Hickok, aka “Hick,” was partly responsible for creating the Eleanor we remember today. Two novels and one nonfiction book tell their story. Susan Wittig Albert’s Loving Eleanor portrays “MY” Eleanor–how I see her. Amy Bloom’s White Houses is better known and is very well written, but “her” Eleanor clashed with mine. The nonfiction book, Eleanor and Hick, is also good though I have not reviewed it. In addition, there is a book of their letters– Empty Without You.
The Two Mrs. Wilsons
Woodrow Wilson nearly resigned the presidency when his beloved wife Ellen died during his time in the White House. He was a very romantic man! And, he was a very modern man. In a footnote in this book, we learn that he believed in birth control! Wilson’s note telling his wife to remember the packet of “rubbers” in his washstand may be the first reference to b.c. use by a president! While mourning the wife charged with bringing those items on vacation, Wilson met a local society lady, Edith Bolling and fell head-over-heels in love with her. They were seen in the presidential limousine driving around the countryside of Virginia and Maryland, often in “if the car be rocking, don’t go knocking” situations. I hope the chauffeur had gone off to pee or stretch his legs! Sadly, we know Wilson had a serious stroke near the end of his term and dear Edith took over the presidency more-or-less. Ellen and Edith: Woodrow Wilson’s First Ladies by Kristie Miller–sadly this book is much more about Woodrow and politics than about his ladies.
The One True Presidential Pairing or OTPP
“I can romp thru cupid’s grove with great agility, but there is more to life than sexual combustibility” John Adams in the musical 1776.
The letters of John and Abigail Adams show a pairing so amazing it had to be divinely instigated. John is as in love with Abigail’s brains as he is with her body. He takes her seriously, often heeds her advice and always at least considers carefully what she advocates. Their loving union survived the many years of separation endured for the sake of the new nation as well as nearly every form of stress a marriage can endure except, apparently, infidelity. They are BOTH founding “parents” of the nation and their letters are a national treasure. My Dearest Friend: Letters of John and Abigail Adams.
The New Novel
Much, perhaps too much, has been written about President John F. Kennedy’s philandering. Like the Trumps, the Kennedys also endured nasty comments about the intent of their marriage. JFK at 36 was arguably the nation’s most eligible bachelor when he married the 24-year-old Jacqueline Bouvier. Their world was not that of middle-class Americans–Jackie could not have been so naive as to think JFK would be faithful, but undoubtedly she must have hoped he would. Like Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie had to endure all the pain that came with her husband’s roving–even enduring her first child’s stillbirth while he was away playing. The forthcoming novel (due out in March), And They Called it Camelot by Stephanie Marie Thornton, is one I’m anxious to read.
My Other Presidential Posts
My Favorite First Lady Biographies and Novels
Best Books on Presidents and First Families
Cross-Generational Romance in the White House