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An extraordinary novel portraying one of the greatest untold love stories in American politics.
In October 1932, at the end of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first presidential campaign, Eleanor Roosevelt took an overnight train from Potsdam to Albany with Lorena “Hick” Hickok, one of the top Associated Press reporters in the country. That train ride marked the beginning of an extraordinary relationship that would last the rest of Hick and Eleanor’s lives.
In Undiscovered Country, Kelly O’Connor McNees adroitly mixes fact and fiction to present an intimate portrait of the love that bloomed between these two women, hidden in plain sight. Using historical records (including the more than three thousand letters the pair exchanged over a span of thirty years), McNees portrays their relationship from their introduction as reporter and subject through their intense first meetings, their burgeoning affair, and the conflicts that arose as journalist Hick’s ethics were hopelessly compromised by her affection for the woman she was supposed to be covering.
A remarkable portrait of Depression-era America (including Hick and Eleanor’s work on the founding of Arthurdale, the federal housing project in West Virginia for homeless ex-miners), Undiscovered Country is an extraordinary portrayal of one of the greatest unknown love stories in American politics.
Kelly O'Connor McNees is the critically acclaimed author of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, In Need of a Good Wife, and The Island of Doves. She lives in Chicago with her husband and daughter.
"The combination of sympathetic yet flawed characters, rich atmospheric details about Depression-era America, and lyrical writing make this one a winner. McNees (The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott) has written an engaging, richly detailed historical romance about a once overlooked love story now receiving renewed attention. Highly recommended for readers of Theresa Fowler’s Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald or Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife." Library Journal (starred)
"McNees has given Hick a genuine voice both sympathetic and sad. This is a damaged woman in an unequal love story with the foregone conclusion that Hick’s longing will not be matched by her preoccupied lover. McNees’ convincing tale illuminates a difficult time for Americans and a woman following her heart, no matter the cost, in a world that had no place for a person like her." Booklist
"Kelly O'Connor McNees's compassion for her characters and their exceptional situation make for a compelling tale. I ached for Hick, and rooted for her, and am so glad to see her getting her due." Therese Anne Fowler, author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
"Letters between First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena ‘Hick’ Hickok inspire McNees’s rich exploration of their secret relationship. A moving and intimate glimpse of Hick and Roosevelt." Publishers Weekly
"Fascinating to read from the very start. Undiscovered Country is one of those books that will stay with me. The writing is beautiful and the characters really came to life. This is a book that I warmly recommend to people that love to read biographical fiction!" Fresh Fiction
"A quiet, elegant, meaningful look at an affair that affected American history." LitHub
"The adept historical novelist Kelly O’Connor McNees chronicles this daring relationship from Lorena Hickok’s point of view. McNees’s more politically detailed fiction has Hick’s ultimate solitude, and her disappointment, at its heart. McNees takes us through the women’s headiest romantic period . . . celebrat[ing] an Eleanor Roosevelt who is warm and affectionate." New York Times Book Review
"Kelly O’Connor McNees writes so richly of women’s lives and struggles. Undiscovered Country is a tender story of strength and self-discovery." Eleanor Brown, New York Times bestselling author of The Weird Sisters