Bloom’s lyrical novel, laced with her characteristic wit and wisdom, celebrates love in its fiery and also embered phases ... White Houses is scattered with colorful period references — to, say, the Lindbergh baby’s kidnapping (covered for The A.P. by Hick) and Wallis Simpson ('famous for kissing up, and kicking down') — but Bloom employs her research with a light touch. Her narrative is suffused with a vivid sense of the personalities of both Roosevelts, their charms and their arrogance, the loyalty they commanded ... Bloom draws an emotionally convincing picture of this complex domestic tangle.
If you like to make a meal out of ungarnished facts, stick to the history books. But White Houses serves up a plate piled with delectable trimmings ... Rather than channel Eleanor’s well-known voice, Bloom makes the fortuitous decision to have Lorena Hickok tell her story. She’s a terrific narrator, brash, funny and opinionated as all get-out ... White Houses occasionally slides off-piste, with overly long digressions about a traveling freak show and a desperate face-saving scheme by a gay Roosevelt cousin. Although she’s a generally reliable narrator, Hick’s report of her last conversation with FDR doesn’t ring true. Yet her overall assessment certainly reverberates ... with its adoring portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt, White Houses reminds us what true greatness looks like. It also demonstrates that the god of love has yet again found a welcoming hangout in Bloom’s bighearted fiction.
...[an] irresistibly audacious re-creation ... Bloom convincingly weaves tender romance with hard-boiled reality, although there is an occasional misstep. Granted, FDR had his own well-known dalliances, but his metrosexual tête-à-tête with Hick is a stretch. At its heart, however, White Houses feels true. In an afterword, Bloom notes that the White House staff routinely cropped Hickok out of photos. In White Houses, she’s in the center of the frame, and nobody who reads this sad, funny, frisky novel is going to forget her.