Paris, France, January 1952
Lucy was dead. Eleanor Roosevelt sat alone in her suite at the Hôtel de Crillon and looked at the obituary a friend had mailed to her the week before. It was from the newspaper in Aiken, South Carolina, dated January 7, 1952: "Lucy Page Mercer Rutherford, fifty-seven years old, died from complications of kidney disease. Widow of Lord Edward Rutherford."
It is a time of turmoil, with the nation mired in an unpopular war in Korea and with Senator Joseph McCarthy stirring up fear of a lurking Communist "menace." Racial discrimination is rampant. A woman's place is in the home. And when a shocking act of God eliminates the Democratic presidential nominee, the party throws its support to an unlikely standard bearer: former First Lady and goodwill ambassador to the world Eleanor Roosevelt. This fast-paced book pits the unforgettable Eleanor against the enormously popular war hero Gen. Dwight David ("Ike") Eisenhower. But while the opponents promise "an honest campaign," their strategists mire the race in scandal and bitter innuendo. Suddenly Eleanor finds herself a target of powerful insiders who mean to destroy her good name — and Ku Klux Klan assassins dedicated to her death — as she gets caught up in a mad whirl of appearances and political maneuvering ... and a chance encounter with a precocious five-year-old named Hillary Rodham.I'm finally getting around to reading this novel, which I mentioned last year in a Friday Five about women:
Name a famous woman from history with whom you would like to have lunch.The book has been unpacked from that box, and I'm ready to read it now. I read to explore ideas — this book explores the idea of a woman running for president of the United States six decades ago. Apparently, the majority of people in the United States are still unable to imagine such a thing.
Eleanor Roosevelt was first lady when I was born in 1940. Eleanor vs. Ike, a 2008 novel by Robin Gerber, is hiding in a box somewhere in my apartment. When I find the right box, I'll read this alternative history of a political campaign between the unforgettable Eleanor and the popular war hero Gen. Dwight David Eisenhower, known as Ike. I was twelve when Ike was elected in 1952, but what fun if Eleanor had become the first woman president. Will it happen in this book?
Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays. Click here for today's Mister Linky.