REVIEW: LUCY, BY ELLEN FELDMAN

On the eve of World War I, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt, fiercely ambitious and still untouched by polio, falls in love with his wife’s social secretary, Lucy Mercer. Eleanor stumbles on their letters and divorce is discussed, but honor and ambition win out. Franklin promises he will never see Lucy again.

But Franklin and Lucy do meet again, and again they fall in love. As he prepares to run for an unprecedented third term and lead America into war, Franklin turns to Lucy for the warmth and unconditional approval Eleanor is unable to give.

Ellen Feldman brings a novelist’s insight to bear on the connection of these three compelling characters. Franklin and Lucy did finally meet, across the divide of his illness and political ascendancy, her marriage and widowhood. They fell in love again. As he prepared to run for an unprecedented third term and lead America into war, Franklin turned to Lucy for the warmth and unconditional approval Eleanor was unable to give.

Drawing on recently discovered materials to re-create the voice of a woman who played a crucial but silent role in the Roosevelt presidency, Lucy is a remarkably sensitive exploration of the private lives behind a public marriage. Reading group guide included.

 

an interior journey thoughts

A love story between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lucy Mercer, Lucy offers a peek into a long and forbidden union sustained despite the efforts to be secretive.  Apparently the participants were not that discreet. There was evidence to suggest that Eleanor was well-aware of the relationship, but did nothing to separate them until a critical moment when FDR wanted a divorce. His political ambitions would have been at risk, so it didn’t happen.

It was interesting to see behind the scenes in that political era, especially because of what FDR’s legacy left to this country. It tells the reader how greatness can still be flawed by the humanity of the characters.

Feldman’s story was well written, and based on records that give credence to much of it. However, I did not warm to the characters. For me, four-star read.

***

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