Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Joseph P. Lash’s Eleanor and Franklin is the first biography of Eleanor Roosevelt to be based on her extensive personal papers. A longtime friend of the former First Lady, Lash writes from a deep sympathy for her. In the book’s fifty-six chronological chapters, he achieves an objective and thoughtful account of her formative years through her husband’s presidency. The book contains some striking photographs of the Roosevelt family and is very well documented. The Roosevelt family saved their letters, and Eleanor Roosevelt’s papers form a large part of the collections at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library at Hyde Park, New York.

The main theme of the book is the way in which Eleanor Roosevelt surmounted a series of crises in her life to find her own personal identity. Her father’s alcoholism caused the breakup of her family when she was a young girl, and she sought a secure and dependable love for the rest of her life. Roosevelt found some of that affection when she attended the girls’ school Allenswood in England, especially in her close friendship with the headmistress of the school, Marie Souvestre. Unfortunately, she had to return to New York to enter the upper-class society to which she belonged. In 1905, Eleanor Roosevelt believed that she had achieved the romantic affection that she sought in her marriage to Franklin Roosevelt. The transition to married life proved difficult for her, however, and, after the birth of their...

(The entire section is 438 words.)