Arts & Ent., BOOK REVIEW

Book Review: “Are You Prepared for the Storm of Love Making? Letters of Love and Lust from the White House” by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler

“Are You Prepared for the Storm of Love Making? Letters of Love and Lust from the White House” by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler

Four bills, a political flier, a request for a charity, and a magazine.
That’s what came in the mail yesterday, which is about average. If you get a letter, man, that’s unusual because almost nobody does that anymore. Imagine spending all that time writing, then waiting ten days to hear back from friends and family. Imagine, as in the new book, “Are You Prepared for the Storm of Love Making? by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler, romance in an envelope.
Your phone is never too far away.
It’s literally your line to your loved ones, a place to catch up, pick up, or follow up on what’s happening, whether by call or text. For most of our country’s history, though, the only means of communication was through written letter – and that includes private, unofficial Presidential notes written to actual or potential First Ladies.
“This,” say the authors, “is a book of love stories…”
While John Adams was away from Abigail Smith, they obsessively wrote letters to one another, some eleven hundred of them, expressing their longing. Not to be outdone, James Garfield and Lucretia together wrote more than twelve hundred letters.
Martha Washington tried to burn everything George ever sent her. Thomas Jefferson did the same with his letters.
Grover Cleveland fretted about life after the White House, praising his wife, Frances’s idea of raising chickens for income. Teddy Roosevelt worried about not making his fiance, Alice, happy enough. Woodrow Wilson seduced his first wife through the mail. Louisa and John Quincy Adams argued through letters, and Lyndon Johnson ordered his Lady Bird to tell him she loved him with “a continuous flow of letters.” Abraham Lincoln missed his sons through the mail. Without Elizabeth Johnson’s tutoring, Andrew Johnson wouldn’t have been able to send her letters at all: she taught him to read and write. Franklin Roosevelt kept Eleanor apprised of his many health matters. And the most poignant love letter Thomas Jefferson ever wrote still exists on his wife, Martha’s, tombstone…
Admit it: it’s almost impossible not to read notes and letters you find in random places. They’re permissibly voyeuristic, also magnetic, and some are delightful. Others are weird, pragmatic, or really kind of boring. You’ll get a taste of this and more inside “Are You Prepared for the Storm of Lovemaking?”
Acting as guides dropping little breadcrumbs of trivia along the journey, authors Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler frame dozens of Presidential letters with historical references before they share them, which gives readers a sense of why each President was thinking what he was thinking. These men presented a public front, but your suspicions will be confirmed on both the awkward and the amorous, as Hoobler and Hoobler reveal a few surprises. Woodrow Wilson, Richard Nixon, you’ll never think of them the same. Lincoln, Obama, LBJ? Yep, them, too.
For the romance reader who also likes history, or the history lover who wants a hint of spice, here’s your book. Read “Are You Prepared For the Storm of Love Making?” You’ll love ever letter of it.


Simon & Schuster $28.99,

293 pages