White Houses by Amy Bloom review – inside FDR’s inner circle

Real-life aide Lorena Hickok’s companionship with Eleanor Roosevelt, and the president’s womanising, are vividly captured in this timely reimagining of a political household

Amy Bloom’s new novel uses the power of gossip to get inside the Roosevelt White House through the character of Lorena Hickok, real-life aide and close companion to Eleanor Roosevelt. What she finds there is rank corruption and plenty of paradoxes, some of which resonate with the world we live in now and some of which do not.

Bloom’s novel is short, but dense and affecting. Hickok, known as “Hick”, is a smart, self-made newspaper reporter raised by a cruel and sexually abusive father in Nebraska. She is also deeply in love with Eleanor Roosevelt, who reciprocates her love when she can, though she is beset by many distractions, including her unpleasant children, her faithless husband and her predilection for always doing the moral and generous thing. Hick is ...