Franklin and Eleanor An Extraordinary Marriage

Hazel Rowley




Trade Paperback

368 Pages



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In this groundbreaking new account of Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelt's marriage, Hazel Rowley describes the remarkable courage and lack of convention—private and public—that kept FDR and Eleanor together. She reveals a partnership that was both supportive and daring. Franklin, especially, knew what he owed to Eleanor, who was not so much behind the scenes as heavily engaged in them. Their relationship was the product of FDR and Eleanor's conscious efforts—a partnership that they created according to their own ambitions and needs.

In this dramatic and vivid narrative, set against the great upheavals of the Depression and World War II, Rowley paints a portrait of a tender lifelong companionship, born of mutual admiration and compassion. Most of all, she depicts an extraordinary evolution—from conventional Victorian marriage to the bold and radical partnership that has characterized Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt's marriage.


Praise for Franklin and Eleanor

"[An] enticing new biography. [Rowley's] research, both meticulous and extensive, does not bloat the book into a doorstop. Franklin and Eleanor is less about history than about relationships, and it reads like a wonderful novel at times, giving us a vision of what parts of American life were like then."—Carolyn See, The Washington Post

"A crackling new biography . . . What distinguishes Rowley's chronicle is her focus on the evolution of the Roosevelt marriage from a standard-issue high-society alliance of its day to a . . . what? We don't even have a term for such an unconventional relationship . . . A revelatory biography of a marriage."—Maureen Corrigan, NPR, Favorite Books of 2010

"This fascinating study of the Roosevelt marriage provides an inside look at a complicated relationship. Rowley traces the progress of the marriage from its early courtship through its bitter disappointments, considered adjustments, and awkward betrayals . . . She accomplishes this while also charting the political progress of two heroic public servants, Franklin and Eleanor."—The Boston Globe

"That Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt formed a splendid partnership is not news. But Hazel Rowley, author of acclaimed biographies of Christina Stead, Richard Wright, and Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, dramatizes in intimate detail just how close the connection between husband and wife became . . . Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, upper New York State aristocrats, became more attuned to the lives of the American people than any other presidential couple—not a claim Rowley makes, but one that becomes evident in reading her magnificent biography."—
Carl Rollyson, The Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

"Vivid and deft."—The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

"Hazel Rowley has gone beyond the gossip and gives us a book of real insight and a tale that is as sympathetic as it is cautionary. I will go so far as to say that if you are going to read only one book about this extraordinary couple, this is the one."—James Srodes, The Washington Times
"[A] compelling history with first-rate character portraits of the Roosevelts and their closest friends."—Terry Hartle, The Christian Science Monitor

"History with an attitude."—The Buffalo News

"A sensitive, hugely compelling portrait."—Vogue, "Best Biography of 2010"

"Any lover of popular history and unorthodox relationships (juicy bits included) will adore this engaging biography."—Slate

"Here is the most consequential love story of the twentieth century, told with verve, swift narrative drive, and clear-eyed fondness for the lovers. 'Clear-eyed' because Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt's marriage was as difficult as it was momentous: How many husbands have ever had to suffer being nagged about the fate of Yugoslavia? How many wives have had to endure the deflections and evasions of a dissimulator as artful as FDR? Hazel Rowley tells a tale as full of betrayals as it is of a fundamental fidelity, while detailing a partnership so powerful that it has shaped the lives of all of us who read about it today."—Richard Snow, former editor of American Heritage and author of A Measureless Peril

"Franklin and Eleanor is a fascinating read, rich with insight and detail. Here is a political marriage that rose above politics; a partnership that was driven as much by idealism as by ambition; and a friendship that survived despite all. Hazel Rowley is a wonderful writer with a gift—rare among historians—for entertaining her readers."—Amanda Foreman, Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire

"Theirs was one of the great marriages in history, one that reshaped the lives of millions in their own time and beyond. In Hazel Rowley's engaging new book, Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt come alive anew in all their complexity, humanity, and greatness."—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship

"A distinguished biographer's fresh take on the marriage of the Roosevelts, the most dynamic couple ever to occupy the White House . . . A focused account of a complex marriage that continues to fascinate."—Kirkus Reviews

"Without resort to sensationalism, the author turns a familiar story into a page-turner."—William D. Pederson, Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Franklin and Eleanor

Chapter 1

OneCousins in Love

They were cousins, fifth-generation, once removed. Their common ancestor, Claes van Rosenvelt, had emigrated from Holland around 1650 and settled in New Amsterdam,...

Read the full excerpt



  • Franklin and Eleanor: Politics

    Hazel Rowley talks about this famous political partnership.

  • Franklin and Eleanor: Personal Life

    Hazel Rowley talks about this famous political partnership.



  • Hazel Rowley

  • Hazel Rowley was born in London and educated in England and Australia. She is the author of three previous biographies: Christina Stead: A Biography, a New York Times Best Book; Richard Wright: The Life and Times, a Washington Post Best Book; and Tête-à-Tête: Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, which has been translated into twelve languages. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute and the Rockefeller Foundation. She lives in New York City.

  • Hazel Rowley © Mathieu Bourgois




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