Customer Review

Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on November 12, 2015
Alice Roosevelt Longworth and Eleanor Roosevelt Roosevelt were first cousins and close as sisters with less than a year difference. Eleanor spent summers at the Theodore Roosevelt estate. Teddy loved Eleanor to bits, being much more demonstrable to her than to his own daughter. Alice, who wanted so much to win her father's praise, resented it that Teddy held Eleanor up to her as a role model. But did she resent Eleanor herself? She acted as though she did, but did she down deep? She liked to cause trouble between Eleanor and Franklin, especially about Franklin's attachment to Lucy Mercer. Franklin was entitled to have his fun, because he was married to Eleanor, she said. Eleanor was such a strait-laced, serious minded, do-gooder who would be likeable if she'd only loosen up. That was Alice's expressed opinion of her cousin -- but Alice liked being abrasive and shocking. She didn't want to seem kind and charitable, a do-gooder like Eleanor. She didn't want to like her cousin. After all, they were on opposite political sides and opposites in outlook and temperament. Alice had wanted her brother to be President. Eleanor's "teapot dome mobile" scuppered that. Eleanor had wanted her husband to be faithful to her and serious about issues. FDR was actually a fun-loving, underhanded shocker, like Alice, and, like Alice, he wouldn't resist temptation.
Marc Peyser goes under the skin of the relationships between the two cousins, with each other, with each girl's pain of growing up losing one parent in early childhood and living with one parent who didn't seem to appreciate her, with being public figures on opposite sides of the political fence, with being a Roosevelt woman in the first half of the 20th century. His thesis statement is that they were more alike than either would admit, and that, for all the bruising each did to the other - and each knew where the other would feel it most - they were always there for each other when the world bruised them.
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