Eleanor Roosevelt's Life of Soul Searching & Self Discovery

October 17, 2011

Eleanor Roosevelt's Life of Soul Searching & Self Discovery
By: Ann Atkins
176 Pages
** reviewed by: Betsey Brooks **

See how this remarkable woman learned to forge her own way in life even when the odds were against her. See how she stood on her own two feet and did things her way at a time when that was never what a woman was supposed to do.

I am a huge fan of Eleanor Roosevelt, so I was very interested to read Ann Atkins' book. Having read several books on Eleanor's life I was curious to see what new things I would learn about this amazing woman. The book starts by introducing  your to her parents and their world of wealth and high society.  This helped me to have a better understanding of how Eleanor was raised.  Her childhood was one of neglect and put downs. She was not the pretty, outgoing child her mom had wanted.  Eleanor learned to stay in the background as a way of protecting herself from being embarrassed by derogatory comments made in front of her.

The brightest spot in her world was her father who, unfortunately, was seldom with her. Being an alcoholic lead him to make many promises, but seldom kept them. After her mother's death, her grandmother decides to send Eleanor to a private school. This was her saving grace. She flourished and made many friends. One of her teachers took Eleanor under her wing and gave her love and encouragement. Eleanor proved to be a good student, made many friends, enjoyed discussing politics and finally learned to express her own opinions.  This was not a trait that was approved of in the world she returned to.

Meeting and marrying Franklin was a happy time except for his overbearing mother Sara Roosevelt. She doted on Franklin and continued to manipulate him throughout her life.  Eleanor had six children, but sadly lost their third child . Depression set in. Sara Roosevelt ran the household from choosing the place they lived to picking out furniture and continued on undermine Eleanor's place as a mother. Sara spoiled the children, showering them with gifts.  Eleanor didn't seem to be able to deal with this so she concentrated on her husband and helping him with his ambitions.

Life changed completely when she found out that Franklin had been having an affair with her social secretary and friend Lucy Mercer. Eleanor offered him a divorce. Once again Franklin's mother took control and threatened to cut him off from the money she doled out to him so lavishly. His dreams of a political career would be finished so he promised to end the affair. Franklin would continue to be involved with women for the rest of his life. Lucy Mercer would discreetly remain in the picture. Eleanor slowly established her place in his world.

Ann Atkins adds bits and pieces about the people of this time. It is interesting to see how she shows Eleanor mature and finally become the strong intelligent woman we all think of today. Many people helped to mold Eleanor.  The effects these people had on  Eleanor and history are amazing. She goes from being the lonely wife and mother to  a full time nurse for Franklin when he is struck with infantile paralysis and continues on to campaign for Franklin's presidential run.  Her campaigning and globe trotting helped to shape our history. One of her many achievements was the passing of  the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This book tells of many of the concessions she had to make to achieve her goals along the way. Eleanor Roosevelt continued to give to her country and the world until she passed away. 

I would recommend this book to those of you that enjoy reading about history and the people that helped make it. Enjoy.


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