Culture Street

Books

The Presidentís Lunch by Jenny Bond

On August 4, 2014

By Sophia Whitfield

Set during a fascinating time in history, The Presidentís Lunch goes behind the scenes of The White House during the Roosevelt era. Weaving fiction with fact, Bondís fascinating insight into the life of the First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt makes for riveting reading.

Having fallen on hard times during the Great Depression, Iris McIntosh has little hope for her future. That is until a chance encounter with Eleanor Roosevelt changes her life forever. Iris quickly goes from destitute to valued staff member at the White House, privy to the inner circle surrounding Franklin Roosevelt.

Eleanor takes Iris under her wing securing her a place close to the charismatic President Roosevelt. During her time at the White House Iris witnesses the strained relationship between Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt, a relationship that is no longer intimate but remains fiercely political, a business partnership that flourishes. Eleanor constantly travels as she champions her causes throughout the country confident in her own abilities and keen to support her husband by being his Ďlegsí as she strides from place to place gaining support.

The Rooseveltís have both made sacrifices for their political beliefs, but Eleanor still manages to exact her revenge on her husband for his many misdemeanours. She employs Mrs Nesbitt, the worst cook to darken the door of The White House, to feed Franklin Roosevelt and his guests. Everybody in the White House knows it and they all suffer at the hands of Mrs Nesbitt.

Despite her affection for Eleanor, Iris is fiercely loyal to President Roosevelt. She takes advice from Eleanor but advises the president. Caught between the two she finds herself questioning everything she believes in.
Energetic and fuelled by youthful idealism during a time of enormous change Iris quickly attracts attention gaining the love of two men of influence. She finds that both her heart and her ethics are called into question during her tenure at The White House.

Bond paints a picture of Eleanor Roosevelt as strong but volatile, a woman to be feared when it came to her political beliefs but revered for her kindness to others in need. Impeccably researched Bondís novel focuses on the power and politics of The White House in the lead up to and during World War II.

A sweeping saga, Bondís lovable characters will leave the reader torn just as Iris is. If you are a fan of historical fiction you will thoroughly enjoy this riveting tale of love and power in The White House.

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