An extraordinary novel portraying one of the greatest untold love stories in American politics.
In 1932, New York City, top reporter Lorena “Hick” Hickok starts each day with a front page byline―and finishes it swigging bourbon and planning her next big scoop.
But an assignment to cover FDR’s campaign―and write a feature on his wife, Eleanor―turns Hick’s hard-won independent life on its ear. Soon her work, and the secret entanglement with the new first lady, will take her from New York and Washington to Scotts Run, West Virginia, where impoverished coal miners’ families wait in fear that the New Deal’s promised hope will pass them by. Together, Eleanor and Hick imagine how the new town of Arthurdale could change the fate of hundreds of lives. But doing what is right does not come cheap, and Hick will pay in ways she never could have imagined.
Undiscovered Country artfully mixes fact and fiction to portray the intense relationship between this unlikely pair. Inspired by the historical record, including the more than three thousand letters Hick and Eleanor exchanged over a span of thirty years, McNees tells this story through Hick’s tough, tender, and unforgettable voice. A remarkable portrait of Depression-era America, this novel tells the poignant story of how a love that was forced to remain hidden nevertheless changed history.
Praise for Undiscovered Country:
“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
“The combination of sympathetic yet flawed characters, rich atmospheric details about Depression-era America, and lyrical writing make this one a winner." —Library Journal (Starred)
“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
"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
"A quiet, elegant, meaningful look at an affair that affected American history." —Lithub
“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, New York Times bestselling author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
“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