Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Book Review--Franklin and Eleanor: an Extraordinary Marriage

Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary MarriageFranklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage by Hazel Rowley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage makes a good case for the continuing closeness of the Roosevelt's marriage while acknowledging what can only be described as its unconventionality. Both, more than likely, had affairs of one kind or another throughout their marriage, beginning with FDR's affair with Lucy Mercer prior to his contracting polio in the 1920's.

Those 2 events (his affair and the polio) changed both their lives, and their marriage, deeply, forever but it did not, as many historians are quick to assume, signal the end of their love for each other. As with any tragedy, both had to come to terms with changed assumptions and dashed dreams.

But neither Franklin nor Eleanor let their individual (or their shared) dreams die. In fact, they went on to become the most influential people in the world during the most difficult part of the 20th century.

There is much that is, and will always be, left unsaid in any book about the marriage of Franklin and Eleanor because most of the letters they wrote to the other loves in each of their lives were destroyed.

But this book leaves you with the impression that you have spent a great deal of time in their company and come away realizing, in some small way, the depth of their love for each other.

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Anonymous said...

Sounds like an interesting book, Dymphna. I've always been fascinated with FDR and Eleanor. I haven't read the book, but just based on your review, I'm wondering how deeply a couple can love each other, then "stray." In my opinion, a spouse that chooses not to be faithful is choosing to be selfish and to love less. Thanks for the review.

Staying in Balance said...

Theirs was a complicated relationship. Most historians go by what the Roosevelt children say--that the marriage was one of convenience after the Mercer affair, but this author has a different, if more "edgy" opinion.

Anonymous said...

I read the book "No Ordinary Time" recently, which dealt with this subject, too, although certainly not exclusively--it was more about the war effort at home and abroad. I winced my way through the book, seeing the numerous ways people can hurt each other even when they still love e/o deeply.

Staying in Balance said...

All engrossing stories have that element, I'm afraid.

Dymphna's favorite quotes

"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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