ruman's look at the nation's first ladies features capsule accounts of a selective number of women who have shared the White House with their husbands. She includes the obvious subjects such as Martha Washington, Dolley Madison, Mary Todd Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt and all the modern presidents' wives, along with lesser-known first ladies as Julia Grant and Julia Tyler. Although Truman, a mystery writer (Murder in the White House) provides a brief background on the women she profiles, she focuses, naturally enough, on their White House years and the roles they played in their husbands' administrations. And Truman attributes to the first ladies plenty of influence over their mates, asserting on numerous occasions that they have played major parts in changing the course of history (e.g., how Dolley Madison's courage helped her husband, and the country, recover from the War of 1812). But her light approach makes it difficult to tell whether she seriously believes her assertion that Rachel Jackson and Lou Hoover died of broken hearts because of the negative publicity about themselves and their husbands.
The subtitle is correct in calling this book "An Intimate Group Portrait". Truman provides the facts coupled with her own perspective having lived in the White House. She seems to treat each lady fairly with the background information that gives good insight into why a particular First Lady may have acted in the way she did. An intersting chronicle.
This is so lovely I have requested a hardcover copy to keep. Margaret Truman has woven much American History into this piece, much of it (the last 80 years, I remember. A great memory retriever. I love it.