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Review of The First Ladies

More About The First Ladies

The Instant New York Times Bestseller! 

The First Ladies is a novel about the extraordinary partnership between First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune—an unlikely friendship that changed the world, from the New York Times bestselling authors of the Good Morning America Book Club pick The Personal Librarian.

The daughter of formerly enslaved parents, Mary McLeod Bethune refuses to back down as white supremacists attempt to thwart her work. She marches on as an activist and an educator, and as her reputation grows she becomes a celebrity, revered by titans of business and recognized by U.S. Presidents. Eleanor Roosevelt herself is awestruck and eager to make her acquaintance. Initially drawn together because of their shared belief in women’s rights and the power of education, Mary and Eleanor become fast friends confiding their secrets, hopes and dreams—and holding each other’s hands through tragedy and triumph.

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt is elected president, the two women begin to collaborate more closely, particularly as Eleanor moves toward her own agenda separate from FDR, a consequence of the devastating discovery of her husband’s secret love affair. Eleanor becomes a controversial First Lady for her outspokenness, particularly on civil rights. And when she receives threats because of her strong ties to Mary, it only fuels the women’s desire to fight together for justice and equality.

This is the story of two different, yet equally formidable, passionate, and committed women, and the way in which their singular friendship helped form the foundation for the modern civil rights movement.

More About Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

​Marie Benedict is a lawyer with more than ten years' experience as a litigator at two of the country's premier law firms, who found her calling unearthing the hidden historical stories of women. Her mission is to excavate from the past the most important, complex and fascinating women of history and bring them into the light of present-day where we can finally perceive the breadth of their contributions as well as the insights they bring to modern day issues.

She embarked on a new, thematically connected series of historical novels telling the tales of women in history. She teamed up with the talented Victoria Christopher Murray to co-write The Personal Librarian and The First Ladies. Writing as Heather Terrell, Marie also published the historical novels The Chrysalis, The Map Thief, and Brigid of Kildare.


A native New Yorker, Victoria Christopher Murray attended Hampton University where she majored in Communication Disorders. After graduating, Victoria attended New York University’s Stern Business School where she received her MBA in Marketing.


Victoria spent ten years in Corporate America before she tested her entrepreneurial spirit. She opened a Financial Services Agency for Aegon, USA where she managed the number one division for nine consecutive years. However, Victoria always dreamed of writing and in 1997, she pursued her dream. 

Victoria originally self published her first novel, Temptation and in 2000, Time Warner published that novel. Temptation remained on the Essence bestsellers list for nine consecutive months. In 2001, Victoria received her first NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Literature with Temptation.

Murray is the New York Times and USA Today best selling author of more than 30 novels, including the New York Times Instant Best Sellers co-written with Marie Benedict: The Personal Librarian and The First Ladies.


My Thoughts about The First Ladies

It's funny that when someone says the 1940s we instantly think of World War II and when some says the 1960s we instantly think of the Civil Rights Movement. The First Ladies enforces that, although it was big, World War II was not the only thing happening during the 1940s and that the Civil Rights Movement was brewing long before the 1960s.

The First Ladies truly made me think about how accomplished people are so easily dismissed and the battles they have to fight to meet their goals. This book introduced me to someone I never knew - Mary McLeod Bethun - as well as a look (fictionalized) inside the personal life of Eleanor Roosevelt.

The fact that these women forged a friendship despite discouragement from everyone around them was wonderful, and at times brave. What struck me was also the fact that both of these intelligent and successful women were similarly frustrated and disappointed, not only by their enemies but also by those closest to them.

Read this book if you want a peek behind the scenes of the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement and the Roosevelt White House.

A Little Extra

When I picked up The First Ladies, I didn't realize it was by the same writing team that produced The Personal Librarian. This fictional novel is fascinating for the information about creating J.P. Morgan library and also for the conflicts and sacrifices experienced by an African American passing for white.


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