Closest Companion

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Franklin Roosevelt was a complex public and private person. Born into the Hudson River elite, several significant events profoundly affected his life—his bout with polio in the 1920’s and his election to the presidency in 1932. Probably of equal importance in defining his life was wife Eleanor’s discovery in 1917 of his affair with her social secretary, Lucy Mercer. From that time until FDR’s death, the intimate side of the Roosevelt marriage ended. Often frustrated and depressed over Eleanor’s virtual abandonment, FDR had affairs with several women, notably his personal secretary Missy LeHand, and he sought companionship from other women, including his sixth cousin and fellow New York aristocrat Margaret “Daisy” Suckley.

Ten years his junior, Margaret was introduced to FDR by his mother during his recovery from polio. By the time Roosevelt invited the unmarried Margaret to his first presidential inauguration in 1933, she had developed a deep admiration for her cousin. Shortly after Suckley’s death in 1991, a series of letters between FDR and Margaret from 1933 to 1945 and a diary kept by Daisy were uncovered. These letters (thirty-eight from FDR) and diaries, which have been carefully edited by historian Ward, offer fascinating insights into the personal life of Roosevelt. There can be no question of Margaret’s love for FDR. The defining moment of their companionship came on September 22, 1935, when Franklin took Daisy driving through...

(The entire section is 412 words.)