Loving Eleanor

by Susan Wittig Albert

When AP political reporter Lorena Hickok—Hick—is assigned to cover Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the wife of the 1932 Democratic presidential candidate, the two women become deeply, intimately involved.


Their relationship begins with mutual romantic passion, matures through stormy periods of enforced separation and competing interests, and warms into an enduring, encompassing friendship that ends only with both women's deaths in the 1960s—all of it documented by 3300 letters exchanged over thirty years.


Now, New York Times bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert recreates the fascinating story of Hick and Eleanor, set during the chaotic years of the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Second World War. Loving Eleanor is Hick's personal story, revealing Eleanor as a complex, contradictory, and entirely human woman who is pulled in many directions by her obligations to her husband and family and her role as the nation's First Lady, as well as by a compelling need to care and be cared for. For her part, Hick is revealed as an accomplished journalist, who, at the pinnacle of her career, gives it all up for the woman she loves. Then, as Eleanor is transformed into Eleanor Everywhere, First Lady of the World, Hick must create her own independent, productive life.


Drawing on extensive research in the letters that were sealed for a decade following Hick's death, Albert creates a compelling narrative: a dramatic love story, vividly portraying two strikingly unconventional women, neither of whom is satisfied to live according to the script society has written for her. Loving Eleanor is a profoundly moving novel that illuminates a relationship we are seldom privileged to see and celebrates the depth and durability of women's love.

Library Journal

Best Book



Read an excerpt

Praise for Loving Eleanor

"Albert deftly writes in Hick's compelling and opinionated voice and conveys an emotional vantage point that will resonate strongly with romance fans. The happy ending is not traditional. Rather it is found in Hick allowing herself to share her love story at all." —Library Journal, a 2016 Best Indie eBook


"Finally! The Valentine we've waited for—the-behind-the-scenes story of the love between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok. It's a like a great box of chocolates. Once you start, you won't be able to stop." —Kate Clinton, Humorist, Author


"Albert captures Hick's spirit with energetic prose, painting a colorful picture of her fascinating life together with and apart from Eleanor. Although this memoir is fictional, the author draws upon thousands of personal letters, first-person accounts by others, and further research to present a compelling possible narrative of the relationship between Eleanor and Hick. Albert's illuminating afterword adds important context to her narrative choices, and a comprehensive bibliography will encourage additional research. This warm, extensively researched novel will entrance readers and inspire them to look further into the lives of two extraordinary women." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


"A beautiful, touching story of the enduring friendship between two intelligent, independent women and the exciting and turbulent eras in which they lived. It is time their story was revealed. Kudos to Albert for telling it." —Romantic Times TOP PICK


"Albert captures the turbulent thirties and forties with affecting detail, writing a novel notable not only for its emotional authenticity, but for its careful historicity. The nuances of Eleanor and Hick's relationship are both moving and involving. Loving Eleanor is an intelligent love story with huge historical appeal." —Foreword Reviews


"Susan Albert has done it again with another engaging, rich portrait, this time of women in love. Drawn from history, the love story of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena Hickok is full of excitement, drama and pathos. Both women of great intelligence and deep feelings, Eleanor and Lorena move from lovers to lifelong friends in the context of the most turbulent times of the 20th Century. As same-sex relationships finally move toward full acceptance in our culture, Albert's book reminds us that love has always been love, no matter the partners." —Robin Gerber, author of Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way


"Loving Eleanor, Susan Wittig Albert's novelized memoir of Lorena Hickok's intimate relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt, is both richly nuanced and impressively detailed. Drawn from the thirty years of correspondence Hickok donated to the FDR Library toward the end of her life, "Hick's" voice felt utterly authentic to me, always real, raw and compelling. Hick is a dichotomy—a tough, streetwise Associated Press reporter, and a tender, devoted friend and lover. This is not only an important book, but a great read. Loving Eleanor deserves to be at the top of your reading list!" —Ellen Hart, author of The Grave Soul, a Jane Lawless Mystery


"Susan Albert has, with imagination and deep knowledge of the historical record, supplied the missing pieces of the love story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok. Here is everything we wish we knew. I couldn't put it down." —Leila Rupp, Professor of Feminist Studies, UC Santa Barbara, author of A Desired Past: A Short History of Same-Sex Love in America


"This birds-eye view of the FDR years is engaging from the first sentence. With Eleanor Roosevelt's long-time lover as its narrator it navigates the catastrophes of the era and the heartbreak of women loving women in an unwelcoming time." —Rebecca Coffey, author of Hysterical: Anna Freud's Story

And more praise, from Goodreads reviewers

  • If I could give this book 10 stars, I would!

  • Biographical fiction at its best. Based on extensive research, Albert tells the highly personal story of Hick's relationship with Eleanor. It is fast-paced reading filled with history, intrigue, and romance.

  • Oh my, what a story!

  • A classy and timely tribute to same-sex love.

  • One of the most extraordinarily compulsive and fascinating stories I've ever read.

  • An amazing book. If I didn't know that the story was a true one I would accuse the (wonderful) author of making it all up! This may not be your history book version of the FDR presidency but it sure should be. It had everything that makes a good story, told in a captivating way.

  • I'm grateful to Albert for including endnotes and an extensive bibliography—I want to learn more about both of these women, and their times.

  • An intriguing historical love story, written with compassion and empathy. I could barely put this book down.

  • Susan Wittig Albert has written a superb account of a little-known episode in Eleanor Roosevelt's life: the love affair between Eleanor and AP journalist Lorena Hickok. In some ways "Hick" made Eleanor Roosevelt, the First Lady that history remembers, by teaching her how to use the media to distinguish herself as an independent person in FDR's four administrations, since both Eleanor's press conferences and her newspaper column, My Day, were Hick's ideas. And that loving gift to Eleanor finally took her away from Hick and gave her to the world...