Eleanor, A Novel (1979)

In the summer of 1918, thirty-three-year-old Eleanor Roosevelt discovers a packet of love letters in her husband’s chiffonier at her rented Washington home. Franklin is touring the recent battlefields of Europe and the children are staying at Hyde Park. How Eleanor changes over the course of the summer will become legendary, as she knows what she is but not what she can become.

From NY Times: ” I did three years of research at Hyde Park and discovered that Mrs. Roosevelt had erased certain material and burned certain letters. There were some letters I found that indicated depths of response not found in her newspaper column, My Day. Curtis Roosevelt, to whom dedicated ‘Eleanor,’ had asked me to write a book with him about his grandmother, but it didn’t work until I turned what I knew into a novel.”


“A reality truer and more haunting than the most scrupulous notes of the biographer—distinguished historical fiction.”
—Frances Taliaferro  Harper’s Magazine

“A beautiful novel, elegantly written, true as anything could be.  Like her heroine, Rhoda Lerman has taken great risks in writing it; after reading it, I am sure that Eleanor Roosevelt would approve.”
–Susan Wood  The Washington Post Book World

“Lerman risks everything as a novelist by casting the entire narrative in Eleanor’s voice and creates a plausible, deep-running, vulnerable, complex, moving character.”
—Saul Maloff  The New York Times Book Review

“A haunting portrait . . . blessed with sensitivity and depth and honesty.”
      —The Los Angeles Times Book Review

“An imaginative success . . . Lerman brings what has always been a stick figure in history to glowing, aching life.”
—Doris Grumbach  The Chronicle Review

“Probably hews closer to the truth than any factual account yet published. . . A portrait that burns itself into the reader’s mind.”
      — John Barkham Reviews

“Twenty years ago when I first read Rhoda Lerman’s novel Eleanor, it struck me as truer to the great lady’s heart than any other account.  The novel has informed all of my dramatic renderings of Mrs. Roosevelt since and it continues to be the source of my inspiration in my current role in the play Eleanor.”
—Jean Stapleton

“…Poignant, plausibly imagined novel . . .the author’s attempt to write in (Mrs. Roosevelt’s) voice succeeds both as a novel and as a sensitive portrait of a woman who at 33 knows who she is but has yet to imagine who she’ll become.”
—Clarence Petersen  Chicago Tribune

“Near perfect novel. . .a delightful tour de force.  Readers who remember Rhoda Lerman as author of the very funny The Girl That He Marries will revel in this entirely different aspect of her considerable talent . . .Eleanor speaks elegantly and with charm to all women.  Miss Lerman has given us a near-perfect fictionalized portrait of a unique woman blessed with sensitivity and depth and honesty.
—Marilyn Willson  Omaha World-Herald

“You’ll be hard pressed to remember that this is not Eleanor Roosevelt confiding in you.  Lerman’s remarkable insight into the psyche of one of America’s most fascinating political wives makes his an irresistible read.  It is rich with political savvy, laughter and tears, and lots of wonderfully descriptive writing.”
—Jane Finlayson  The Ottawa Citizen

“From the first the narrative is powerful, every word of it readable and compelling, the period details skillfully rendered, the tension beautifully managed and sustained. . .tour de force.”
Publishers Weekly

“…extraordinary book…remains vividly in the mind long after the novel ends.  Few novels deserve the accolade ‘tour de Force’.  Eleanor is one of them.  Rhoda Lerman has created an unforgettable novel that speaks most eloquently to our own time.”
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