Loving Eleanor

Susan Wittig Albert

Book Cover

GENRE

BIOGRAPHICAL DRAMA POLITICAL LGBT ROMANCE

    Core Theme

    EVOLVING NATURE OF LOVE

    TIME PERIOD

    20th Century (multiple decades)

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    CAROL, GENTLEMAN JACK, HIS GIRL FRIDAY

    CHARACTER LIST

    • LORENA HICKOK (HICK): 35-55. LEAD. ASPIRING, EMPATHETIC, OUTSPOKEN, UNAPOLOGETIC, FAITHFUL

    • ELEANOR ROOSEVELT: 45-65. FIRST LADY. ENGAGING, GRACIOUS, INSECURE, LEADER, NAIVE, VISIONARY, ROMANTIC

    • FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT: 50-60. POTUS. COMPLEX, CONFIDENT, DECISIVE.

    Logline

    Star AP political reporter Lorena Hickok becomes intimately involved with Eleanor Roosevelt and gives up her career to tutor ER in PR as 1st Lady. Then, as Eleanor grows into her role and becomes Eleanor Everywhere, Hick must create her own independent life.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 35-54,55+,18-34

    Target Gender: LGBT Leaning,Female Leaning

    Setting

    New York, Washington DC, Hyde Park, Long Island

    Based on a True Story

    Yes

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Year Published: 2016

    Starting Description

    Sept 1928. AP NY bureau office. Hick is assigned (male reporters boo) to cover the Democratic ticket, FDR for NY governor. Mrs. R speaks at a lunch, Hick finds her homely but mesmerizing. Election night. Hoover (GOP) landslide but FDR wins NY. Mrs. R tells Hick she doesn't want to be NY First Lady.

    Ending Description

    Hick retires from political life to a house on Long Island, where (after FDR's death, 1945) she watches as Truman names ER to the UN, realizing that the only way she can hold her is to let her go--and be there when she comes back.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    978-0989203548

    Mature Audience Themes

    Information not completed

    Plot - Other Elements

    Philosophical Questions

    Plot - Premise

    Quest,Other

    Main Character Details

    Name: Lorena Hickok (Hick)

    Age: 35-55

    Gender: Lgbt

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Empathetic,Underdog,Blunt,Outspoken,Skillful,Romantic,Sarcastic,Unapologetic,Faithful

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Eleanor Roosevelt

    Age: 45-65

    Gender: Female

    Role: Emotional

    Key Traits: Aspiring,Complex,Empathetic,Engaging,Gracious,Insecure,Leader,Naive,Visionary,Romantic,Strong Moral Code,Manipulative

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Franklin Roosevelt

    Age: 50-60

    Gender: Male

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Aspiring,Charming,Complex,Confident,Decisive,Engaging,Gracious,Leader,Narcisstic,Power Hungry,Visionary,Secretive,Manipulative

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Development Pitch

    This is the story of two extraordinary women, one known to the world, the other an invisible but hugely important shaping force. Lorena Hickok is a talented, tenacious journalist, the first woman political journalist and a lesbian. Eleanor Roosevelt is uncertain, unattractive, naïve, unhappily aware of her charming, successful husband’s extra-marital affairs. When the two become intimate during the 1932 presidential campaign, they cannot bear to be separated. But ER is reluctantly dragged to the White House, and Hick, understanding what ER needs, teaches her to make the best of her talent as a speaker and front person for the Roosevelt administration. She succeeds beyond her imagining, as ER uses Hick’s coaching to blossom into a First Lady who can use the media (newspapers, magazines, radio) to make herself accessible. This relationship costs Hick her career, for she cannot be both an objective journalist and an intimate friend of the First Lady’s. And in the end, ironically, it costs Hick the woman she loves, who is transformed (Pygmalion-like) into Eleanor Everywhere, First Lady of the World—out of Hick’s reach. But despite this devastating loss, Hick is able to grow into her own strong, independent self, at home in political Washington with other strong women, accepting, respecting, and admiring Eleanor’s stature in the world while she makes her own new life.

    Genre

    ROMANCE, HISTORICAL FICTION

    Brief

    Loving Eleanor is a fictional memoir based on the relationship between Lorena Hick and Eleanor Roosevelt. This is the start of a love story that would last for years, despite long periods of separation and the fact that Eleanor Roosevelt was to become The First Lady of United States.

    Overall Rating

    EXCELLENT

    Point of View

    FIRST PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: EXCELLENT

    Characterization: EXCELLENT

    Commerciality: EXCELLENT

    Franchise Potential: EXCELLENT

    Pace: EXCELLENT

    Premise: EXCELLENT

    Structure: EXCELLENT

    Theme: EXCELLENT

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    The plot premise of "Quest" seems off, but other than that it works.

    Draw of Story

    Beautiful writing--perfect use of language and composition. Also, everyone loves a scandalous love story.

    Possible Drawbacks

    Not once I wanted to put the book down. Seriously. So good.

    Use of Special Effects

    No.

    Primary Hook of Story

    A peek behind the curtain at the love story of Eleanor Roosevelt and female reporter Lorena Hickok, based on the love letters exchanged between the two that have just recently become unsealed.

    Fanbase Potential

    Absolutely. The LGBT crowd, the historical accuracy crowd, and overall lovers of drama and romance will obsess over this.

    Awards Potential

    It's a period piece, so there will be opportunity for awards in costume design, but the roles are so intense that this could also be an area where female actors could shine, and a male actor could bring FDR to life in a new way.

    Envisioned Budget

    LARGE BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    CAROL. GENTLEMAN JACK

    What’s New About the Story

    It's based on a true story, it's a lesbian love story that focuses more on the difficulties of loving a public figure rather than homophobia, and one of the most interesting aspects is that it's the 30s and 40s through the lens of the late 60s. Normally, historical fiction is written through the lens of a modern time, but this allows for some hindsight while also providing opportunities for unwritten echoes of timeliness.

    Lead Characters

    No one is a stereotype. ER is shown as emotionally vulnerable. Hick is shown as ambitious in her career in a way that female characters are often robbed of in favor of their romantic ideals--Hick isn't afraid to put her foot down and tell ER how she deserves to be treated. Hick is empowering in every way.

    Uniqueness of Story

    Rare gem doesn't begin to cut it. If this story only had a fifth of its magic it would still be a rare gem.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Studio, TV Series - Limited Run / Mini-Series, TV Series - Streaming

    Analyst Recommendation

    RECOMMEND

    Justification

    Grab this before someone else does and please make it already. Everyone needs to see this.

    Brief

    Star AP political reporter Lorena Hickok becomes intimately involved with Eleanor Roosevelt just before her husband's first election to the presidency. As Eleanor grows into her role and becomes Eleanor Everywhere, Hick must create her own independent life, while covering up her own heartbreak and affair with the first lady.

    What We Liked

    - Based on a true story;
    - This is a beautiful love story that could stand on its own even if it weren't based on a true
    story, even if it wasn't a period piece showing the tumultuous 30s and 40s with the
    perspective of the late 60s, even if it wasn't a multidimensional view of a lesbian romance in
    an arena of cardboard farces in female-centered LGBT romance lit. This story would be great
    even if it did not have all of these wonderful elements, and yet, it manages to surpass
    expectations at every turn;
    - A blockbuster tragic romance that critics and audiences alike would love;
    - This would be a thrilling series that audiences would tune into every week to see what happens in the love story and what happens in Hick's personal life and career.

    Synopsis

    In 1928, Lorena Hickok is the top female reporter for the Associated Press. She is assigned to cover the democratic ticket in New York, where rising political star Franklin Delano Roosevelt is running for governor. She watches a speech by his wife and is instantly mesmerized by Eleanor Roosevelt. As she covers the election, the two become closer, and ER confides in Hick that she does not want FDR to win.

    Louis Howe, FDR's political adviser, meets with Hick and warns her of FDR's "left hook." Hick and ER share a train ride together in which they first become intimate, spurring a love affair that lasts over a decade between the two. Hick covers the Tammany Hall political scandals as FDR gains ground politically. Soon, Hick is helping ER as she and her husband run for the presidency. ER dreads becoming first lady, so Hick organizes a private plane ride for the two to cheer ER up, piloted by Amelia Earhart. The two are often seen at the White House together.

    FDR likes Hick, but he recommends that she work with the Federal Relief Agency to document the lives of ordinary Americans during the Great Depression. This means that Hick and ER will be separated, but Hick will get to do meaningful work.

    Hick goes to the midwest and sees the poverty and desolation plaguing the country. She brings her reports back to ER, who is determined to take more action to help. ER and Hick plan for a few private vacations together, but Hick soon learns that ER is too politically ambitious and has become too much of a celebrity. This causes a separation between the two, as Hick feels that ER will never put her first.

    The second world war breaks out, and FDR is forced to bring the country into the fray. Hick returns to the White House and spends more and more time with the Roosevelts. Once FDR dies, Hick is disappointed to find that she still has to share Eleanor with the world, as President Truman appoints ER to the United Nations as "First Lady of the world." Hick realizes she will always love Eleanor, but she will never have her all to herself.

    About The Author

    Susan Wittig Albert has worked as a professor at Tulane, the University of Texas, and Texas State University. She is the founder of the Story Circle Network, a non-profit organization for women writers.