The best books for an intimate look into the Gilded World of the Roosevelts

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I was a child, the rumors surrounding my grandfather’s mysterious birth and upbringing have fascinated me! Left at a police station on Christmas Eve, 1923, he grew up in a New York orphanage. When he was of age, the nuns handed him a large sum of money and told him his father was FDR and his mother was a servant of the Roosevelt’s. Was it true? Was it fiction? My family has spent collective decades combing through papers in search of answers. I finally decided to take the pieces of the story we knew and knit them together with fiction to create my first novel, A Roosevelt Smile.


I wrote...

A Roosevelt Smile

By Alexandra Kulick,

Book cover of A Roosevelt Smile

What is my book about?

1915, New York: After the gunshots that roused the Great War, eighteen-year-old Franceska immigrates to America ballooned with the hope of rising above her quaint beginnings. The jagged realities of daily domestic service work quickly deflate her picturesque vision, yet when Sara Delano Roosevelt selects her for temporary work, Frances senses her American dream is about to begin.

With the arrival of Franklin and his family for Christmas, Frances finds herself captivated by his alluring charm. Franklin's generous spirit helps her through the most difficult times and pulls her into a gilded world of belonging. Could indiscretion cost her everything she'd gained? Or propel her further into the life she'd dreamed of?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Affectionately, F.D.R.: A Son's Story Of A Courageous Man

Alexandra Kulick Why did I love this book?

James, the eldest Roosevelt son, gives readers a firsthand glimpse into growing up Roosevelt.

His heartwarming anecdotes add color to a world that seems black and white. One of the most endearing stories he shared came from the night Franklin won the presidency and humbly asked his son to pray for him. These memories provide an intimate glimpse of the man who was FDR.

By James Roosevelt, Sidney Shalett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Affectionately, F.D.R. as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work.


Book cover of An Untold Story: The Roosevelts of Hyde Park

Alexandra Kulick Why did I love this book?

Elliott Roosevelt, Franklin and Eleanor's third-born, must have read his older brother's book and thought, "That’s not all!"

Always sensitive to his surroundings, Elliott knew things were not right between his parents. He felt the turbulence of Eleanor's "Griselda" moods, recounting an incident that drove her to fire all of their servants after mounting distrust. Where older brother James would write of catching fish with their father on a boat trip, Elliott divulged the sting of witnessing Missy LeHand on his father's lap during that same trip. Elliott also mentioned household staff members including Frances and Millie, who come to the forefront in my own novel.

By Elliott Roosevelt, James Brough,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Untold Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Personalities of the man who became the thirty-second President of the United States an d the woman who, after his death, earned her place as the First Lady of the Western world.


Book cover of The House at Hyde Park

Alexandra Kulick Why did I love this book?

To delve into the Roosevelt’s household and those that sustained their lifestyles, Sara Delano Roosevelt's household book is a gem! It was republished by Clara and Hardy Steeholm, accompanied by a beautifully written family history.

This book offers a captivating look at a bygone era, demonstrating how Sara Roosevelt carried her Victorian upbringing into the 20th century. Readers will discover her recipes and learn about their origins. Handwritten notes even reveal the layette set Sara Roosevelt stitched for baby FDR and the patterns for sweaters she knitted for her grandchildren.

Each becomes a replicable piece of Roosevelt history to adorn your parlor- if you have one!

By Clara & Hardy Steeholm,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The House at Hyde Park as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey"

Alexandra Kulick Why did I love this book?

Before I could write my book, I needed a more in-depth look at the world of domestic service in the early 20th century! Reading the memoirs of Margaret Powell provided a wonderful springboard for me to connect my great-grandmother/protagonist world!

Born in 1907, Margaret started work at age 13. She details the ups and downs of an Edwardian kitchen maid. From servants randomly giving birth in the closet to masters with strange obsessions, this story brings a firsthand perspective into the "downstairs world" life of domestic service.

By Margaret Powell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Below Stairs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Arriving at the great houses of 1920s London, fifteen-year-old Margaret's life in service was about to begin...

As a kitchen maid - the lowest of the low - she entered an entirely new world; one of stoves to be blacked, vegetables to be scrubbed, mistresses to be appeased, and even bootlaces to be ironed. Work started at 5.30am and went on until after dark. It was a far cry from her childhood on the beaches of Hove, where money and food were scarce, but warmth and laughter never were.

Yet from the gentleman with a penchant for stroking the housemaids'…


Book cover of Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor

Alexandra Kulick Why did I love this book?

While Below Stairs might be tinged with drama, Rose shows readers the loyal, dutiful side of a lady's maid to the incredibly influential Nancy Astor.

Rose details the tumultuous yet rewarding relationship she built with Lady Astor that lasted until the day of her death in this touching story. A fun fact loosely touched on in the memoir, without specifically naming the Roosevelts, was that the Astors visited and stayed at Springwood with FDR, including the memoirist, Rose!

By Rosina Harrison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rose as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1928, Rosina Harrison arrived at the illustrious household of the Astor family to take up her new position as personal maid to the infamously temperamental Lady Nancy Astor, who sat in Parliament, entertained royalty, and traveled the world. "She's not a lady as you would understand a lady" was the butler's ominous warning. But what no one expected was that the iron-willed Lady Astor was about to meet her match in the no-nonsense, whip-smart girl from the country.

For 35 years, from the parties thrown for royalty and trips across the globe, to the air raids during WWII, Rose…


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Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

By Sam Baldwin,

Book cover of Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

Sam Baldwin Author Of Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an Englishman who fell in love with a 300-year-old former sausage curing hut on the side of a Slovenian mountain in 2007. After years of visits spent renovating the place, I moved to Slovenia, where I lived and worked for many years, exploring the country, customs, and culture, learning some of the language, and visiting its most beautiful places. I continue to be enamored with Slovenia, and you will regularly find me at my cabin, making repairs and splitting firewood.

Sam's book list on books about Slovenia

What is my book about?

When two brothers discover a 300-year-old sausage-curing cabin on the side of a Slovenian mountain, it's love at first sight. But 300-year-old cabins come with 300 problems.

Dormice & Moonshine is the true story of an Englishman seduced by Slovenia. In the wake of a breakup, he seeks temporary refuge in his hinterland house, but what was meant as a pitstop becomes life-changing when he decides to stay. Along the way, he meets a colourful cross-section of Slovene society: from dormouse hunters, moonshine makers, beekeepers, and bitcoin miners, to a man who swam the Amazon, and a hilltop matriarch who…

Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

By Sam Baldwin,

What is this book about?

'Charming, funny, insightful, and moving. The perfect book for any Slovenophile' - Noah Charney, BBC presenter

'A rollicking and very affectionate tour' - Steve Fallon, author of Lonely Planet Slovenia

'Delivers discovery and adventure...captivating!' - Bartosz Stefaniak, editor, 3 Seas Europe

When two brothers discover a 300-year-old sausage-curing cabin on the side of a Slovenian mountain, it's love at first sight. But 300-year-old cabins come with 300 problems.

Dormice & Moonshine is the true story of an Englishman seduced by Slovenia. In the wake of a breakup, he seeks temporary refuge in his hinterland house but what was meant as…


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