The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro

Fast-Paced. Historical Fiction With a Twist. Enjoyable.

During 1940 in New York City an American painter, Alizée Benoit, working for the Works Progress Administration, vanishes. Fast forward 70 years to Christie’s auction house, where the Alizée’s great-niece, Danielle, is working. She comes across a few anonymous paintings she believes are the work of her long lost great-aunt. The author takes the reader to the past and returns to the future following both Alizée and Danielle’s stories. Along the way Alizée becomes acquainted with Eleanor Roosevelt and her close companion, Hick.

This was the first I had heard of Hick and found myself doing some research. After completing The Muralist I coincidentally read a review of Eleanor & Hick (great timing). I got my hands on it as soon as possible and quickly realized how well these two books paired.

Eleanor and Hick by Susan Quinn

Remarkable. Compelling. Readable.

Do not be deterred by this non-fiction, dual biography. Many of its peers can be dense with detail and difficult to complete. Not this one! Quinn keeps the story fast-paced and engaging all while including heavily researched, and never-before-shared details. Similar to The Muralist the book flips between the lives of both Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok, including their childhoods, early friendship, careers and the evolution of their relationship. A fascinating and thought-provoking book with a variety of topics for discussion.

Notably Nuggets:

  • A Person For Others – Eleanor Roosevelt was a doer, a quality I find admirable. She used her large network of family, friends and acquaintances to make things happen not for herself, but for others. She met a plethora of people throughout her life and managed to help those who needed it in any way she could. More times than not she used her level of influence for the good of others, a quality highlighted in both books and quite inspiring.
  • Determined Women – Although women today continue to break through glass ceilings and advocate for women’s equality, Eleanor, Hick and the fictional Alizee lived through strenuous times. They each worked within their industry (politics, journalism and art) and means to forge the way for their successors. Each left a postive and unique wake behind them; how would you describe your wake?