White Houses

White HousesWhite Houses by Amy Bloom
Published by Random House on February 13th 2018
Pages: 240
Format: ebook
Genres: Fiction, Historical
See it @ Goodreads
three-stars


Synopsis


The unexpected and forbidden affair between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok unfolds in a triumph of historical fiction from the New York Times bestselling author of Away and Lucky Us.

"I never envied a wife or a husband, until I met Eleanor. Then, I would have traded everything I ever had, every limo ride, every skinny dip, every byline and carefree stroll, for what Franklin had, polio and all."

Lorena Hickok meets Eleanor Roosevelt in 1932 while reporting on Franklin Roosevelt's first presidential campaign. Having grown up worse than poor in South Dakota and reinvented herself as the most prominent woman reporter in America, "Hick," as she's known to her friends and admirers, is not quite instantly charmed by the idealistic, patrician Eleanor. But then, as her connection with the future first lady deepens into intimacy, what begins as a powerful passion matures into a lasting love, and a life that Hick never expected to have. She moves into the White House, where her status as "first friend" is an open secret, as are FDR's own lovers. After she takes a job in the Roosevelt administration, promoting and protecting both Roosevelts, she comes to know Franklin not only as a great president but as a complicated rival and an irresistible friend, capable of changing lives even after his death. Through it all, even as Hick's bond with Eleanor is tested by forces both extraordinary and common, and as she grows as a woman and a writer, she never loses sight of the love of her life.

From Washington, D.C. to Hyde Park, from a little white house on Long Island to an apartment on Manhattan's Washington Square, Amy Bloom's new novel moves elegantly through fascinating places and times, written in compelling prose and with emotional depth, wit, and acuity.

"Amy Bloom knows the urgency of love," wrote The Washington Post about Bloom's acclaimed bestseller Away. The same could be said of White Houses, an unforgettable novel about the power of passion and the endurance of love.

Advance praise for White Houses

"Amy Bloom illuminates one of the most intriguing relationships in history. Lorena Hickok is a woman who found love with another lost soul, Eleanor Roosevelt. And love is what this book is all about: It suffuses every page, so that by the time you reach the end, you are simply stunned by the beauty of the world these two carved out for themselves."--Melanie Benjamin, author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue

"It seems a minor miracle, what Amy Bloom has done in White Houses. In Lorena Hickok's unforgettable voice, she brings an untold slice of history so dazzlingly and devastatingly to life, it took my breath away. Easily, the most intimate, crackling, and expansive rendering of Eleanor Roosevelt in print, and, more than this, a dizzyingly beautiful tale of what it means to be human, and what it is to love."--Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

My thoughts on this book

White Houses Is the story of the romance between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok. Both women in their own way had very sad lives. Eleanor because she lived in the shadow of FDR and Hickok because of her brutal early life.

While the romance was scandalous it was by no means extraordinary. Bloom characterizations of Eleanor and Lorena are lovely, they were devoted to each other.

Amy Bloom is a wonderful writer, she has written a thought-provoking book about two lost souls that find a bit of happiness with another.

Frozen Assets

Frozen AssetsFrozen Assets by Quentin Bates
Series: Officer Gunnhilder #1
Published by Soho Crime on May 10th 2014
Pages: 330
Format: ebook
Genres: Fiction, Scandinavian and Nordic Mysteries & Thrillers
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four-stars


Synopsis


A body is found floating in the harbor of a rural Icelandic fishing village. Was it an accident, or something more sinister? It's up to Officer Gunnhildur, a sardonic female cop, to find out. Her investigation uncovers a web of corruption connected to Iceland's business and banking communities. Meanwhile, a rookie crime journalist latches onto her, looking for a scoop, and an anonymous blogger is stirring up trouble. The complications increase, as do the stakes, when a second murder is committed. "Frozen Assets" is a piercing look at the endemic corruption that led to the global financial crisis that bankrupted Iceland's major banks and sent the country into an economic tailspin from which it has yet to recover.

My thoughts on this book

It is interesting to read a murder mystery in a country where murder is all but non-existent, over the last two decades, an average of about two people have been murdered annually in the small and prosperous nation of 336,000. It has had entire years — 2003, 2006 and 2008 — when not a single person was murdered. Just recently, the murder of a 20 Icelander woman made the New York Times.

Iceland like the United States suffered the 2008 financial crisis, unlike the United States, the Icelandic government let its three major banks – Kaupthing, Glitnir and Landsbankinn – fail and went after reckless bankers. Many senior executives were jailed and the country’s ex-prime minister Geir Haarde was also put on trial, becoming the first world leader to face criminal prosecution arising from the turmoil. although he was cleared of negligence.

With the impending financial crisis as a backdrop Frozen Assets introduces Officer Gunnhildur, single mother, widow, police officer. After finding a body on a beach, Officer Gunnhildur does not accept the accidental death theory, she stumbles into a scheme that the energy minister and his wife are up too to make money at the expense of the taxpayer. Reading about police procedures in other countries is always interesting, unlike Arnaldur Indridason books, Quentin Bates books are not so dark and brooding. Be ready to be confused by the names.