Susan Quinn’s Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped A First Lady has left me in awe. Eleanor Roosevelt was a way more powerful player in American history then she is credited. Yet, I had no idea that it was the love of a woman that fueled Roosevelt’s passion and stamina through the harsh political world.
From the first page, Susan Quinn enraptures you with the deep connection Eleanor and Hick have with each other. It is both moving and heartbreaking to see how their love expands through three decades. Quinn does well to show a lifetime tussled by the personal joys and insecurities these women sparked in each other through their closeness. She uses their own words to develop the enchantment they stir in each other’s hearts to the point that Eleanor cannot stop suffering from her physical yearning to have Hick in her arms. For 360 pages, the book breezes by quickly, in part, because Quinn’s writing builds fascination and care for both Eleanor and Hick romance.
Quinn’s masterful writing achieves the impossible in making these political figures of the past seem present and near to readers’ hearts. When you look at historical pictures of the first half of the 20th century, they are often in black and white and unemotional. Images of Eleanor Roosevelt show a woman of strong stature with a meek smile. Yet, behind the appeared coyness and feigned demure nature of Mrs. Roosevelt, was a woman that was smarter, kinder, and altogether more compassionate then even her husband: President Franklin D Roosevelt. One of the hardest to absorb, but most needed elements of Eleanor and Hick is its ability to make you feel Eleanor and Lorena’s social oppression. Quinn vividly paints these women as two ladies that were too ahead of even our modern times. There are particular moments throughout the book, where you wish you could be transported to their era or their side to wipe their tears and yell at the world for making them cry. These women were too intelligent and resilient to suffer in the boxes and labels society had placed upon them both for their gender and sexual orientation.
It is “funny” to see the unwelcome of women in politics during the early 20th century oddly match that of the early 21st, but it is that “unwelcome” that drives the story of Eleanor and Hick to be one of the most important for the LGBTQ community. There is a tepidness, even today, to associate Eleanor Roosevelt’s name with the word lesbian. Although there are those that still argue the depth of Eleanor and Hickok’s relationship, both physically and emotionally, Quinn uses their own words to describe the beauty and tragedy of these women’s longing for the other. They are so empowered by each other’s person, that you can literally witness throughout Eleanor and Hick the spiritual growth their love consistently births within the other for the rest of their lives.
When you think of Eleanor Roosevelt you my not think passion, ambition, or liveliness. In her times, women were especially not allowed to reveal the layers of their human spirit. Thus, Quinn is right to say the Lorena Hickok’s love shaped the four term The First Lady. Roosevelt’s letters and physical affection for Hickok reveal a side to her that was even new and surprising for her herself. There have been many complaints against the entertainment industry for its lack of portrayal of the lesbian community. Quinn, inadvertently, shows the workings behind this social aggression though Eleanor and Hick as the couple is individually berated for their looks, their minds, and, basically, for being women. As Roosevelt grows comfortable with becoming a political face/activist for the socially oppressed, Quinn is quick to draw on there irony of Eleanor’s own, invisibly rattling chains. Roosevelt could not love Hick publicly, and almost privately, because they were constantly being watched as if their were fragile objects ready to break. Yet, after reading Eleanor and Hick, I can affirm that these women were far from breakable.
Hickok liberated in Roosevelt a confidence and self-love that moved her to become a perseverant and vocal advocate of women’s rights, human rights, and the first against world poverty. When you think about it, it was love between two women that moved of forward the rights of women across America and the world. Eleanor inspired so many with her life and warmth, but it was Hickok that inspired these sentiments within her. Eleanor and Hickok is a must-read for members of the LGBTQ and women’s community to see how far they have come in terms of social acceptance while also acknowledging how much advancement is still needed. To Pre-Order Eleanor And Hick; The Love Story That Shaped A First Lady, you can click Here. Susan Quinn’s heartfelt. historical biography comes out on hardcover September 27 through Penguin Random House.