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The Roosevelt Women by Betty Boyd Caroli

The Roosevelt Women is a book that I've been working on for a while, and then I set it aside to read Winter Street, and then I came back to finish it.  It's a long book with long chapters, but it was interesting to me because it focuses on the women of this historic clan while most attention falls on the most famous Roosevelt men who went on to become presidents: Theodore and Franklin.

The book includes a family tree mapping out the relations of the Roosevelt family as well as chapters that focus on selected women.  The story begins with the improbably, soap opera-like origins of the union of the parents of Theodore Roosevelt in a chapter that details the life, influence and place in the family of his mother, Martha.  You really have to read it to get it and understand it.  It's a love story that even today would raise eyebrows.  The author points to Martha's marriage into the family and the enormous energy and indomitable life force that she brought to the clan and passed on to some of her children as the catalyst for the increasingly rapid rise of the fortunes and profile of the family.

Subsequent chapters offer insight into the lives and complicated relationships between Sara Delano Roosevelt, the mother of Franklin, and her daughter-in-law, Eleanor.  Sara Delano Roosevelt is often a woman who is maligned in the public sphere.  Yet careful examination and analysis by the author of family papers and letters reveals a complicated, multi-layered relationship between these two women that is far different from the strained relationship that the public assumes they had.

Several of Theodore's sisters, daughters, and nieces are also profiled in chapters in this book.  Family photographs are also included of the women and their families.  If you're a history lover, and have read a lot about the Roosevelts, I encourage you to read this book for a different perspective on the family.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


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