Born in Manhattan, Justine moved to London at the age of six. She has spent her life going between UK and USA. As a former teacher, she has written short stories and school plays for most of her life, but now writes novels. She met Daisy Suckley, her grandmother's cousin, when a child and played in Wilderstein. Daisy Chain is her first novel: the culmination of family gossip and research.
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Living in Downton Abbey faded splendour, Daisy sought to keep her family home afloat after the 1929 Crash. As a spinster and a sixth cousin to Franklin Roosevelt, she began a complex relationship with him in her forties, leading to her working in the White House. His wife Eleanor had long left the marital home and although politically active, was a First Lady in name only. Daisy stepped into the breach, forming friendships with the group of unconventional women who surrounded him. They included: Frances Perkins, his Secretary for Labor and architect for social security; and Missy LeHand, his longtime super-secretary. FDR gave them careers and in return, they ensured the secrets of their disabled President were kept behind closed doors. Told through Daisy's eyes, his battles with Eleanor and the Press, the women's animosities and affairs, her gift to him of the first Presidential dog, and visiting dignitaries' foibles, are all recorded. But most of all , she relates how the forgotten women of FDR's Presidency helped shape his twelve years in office.
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PART ONE - HUDSON RIVER VALLEY
Nothing was as it seemed. Not just for my family, but for all of us along the Hudson River valley. This was an accepted part of life.
As the eldest daughter, I was the designated wallflower: virginal, and useful. Any attempt to step outside that role was curtailed. To a lesser degree, social strictures bound the men. Although appearance was everything, on the whole; if a man crossed a line, most pretended not to see. Certainly, my cousin Franklin was marvellous at getting around the inconvenience of convention. He was in a wheelchair and disability of any sort had to be hidden from the light of day. But he had a wonderful knack for public speaking and a personal charisma that entranced, so we developed ruses to make the contraption invisible. Similarly, I was a confirmed old maid, yet I too developed a knack for ruses. In fact, all the women around him paid little more than lip service to various rules of decorum.
What united us was how much we loved him.
As to who had the most influence on him, well, everybody knew you caught more flies with honey.
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