For the first time, the charismatic tale of Quentin Roosevelt, President Theodore Roosevelt’s youngest son, and his secret fiancée, Flora Payne Whitney, is told in rich and absorbing detail by an expert storyteller.
At the ebb of the Gilded Age, Quentin is the scion of America’s most celebrated political family. Flora is the privileged child of the Whitneys and Vanderbilts, two of the nation’s richest dynasties.
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The lives of Quentin and Flora intersect at the dawn of the Great War in Europe after each has grown up in the public spotlight, he in the White House and she in the storied mansions of New York and Newport. His childhood preciousness charms the nation and parallels her envelopment in her parents’ worlds of high art, luxury yachts and philanthropy.
Quentin and Flora reach beyond their families’ orbits to begin a searching adolescent companionship that evolves inexorably into a fairy tale romance, tortured by the uncertainty of war and a vast and dangerous ocean.
Through their actual letters, deeply unexplored for a hundred years, we share their youthful desires and dreams, and see them thwarted by the agony of separation and high-level political intrigue. We learn of their last night together on her father’s yacht and their hush-hush engagement.
Quentin sails to France with a determination to prove his stuff in aerial combat with the Kaiser’s air force, only to be foiled for months by military indecisiveness and ironically, his own exceptional competence. When an unexpected chance to fly comes, Quentin’s choice opens a deep schism among the Roosevelts that bitterly pits father against sons. Is Quentin a victim or a slacker?
On the home front, Flora and an aging and embittered Theodore Roosevelt struggle to find a way through wartime red tape so she can go to France to marry Quentin. At last, freed from the constraints of a bleak, backwater station, Quentin sets off for the war front. There he powers his aircraft deep into dangerous German skies in a thunderous clash that exposes both his bravado and courage. But within days, while on air patrol over enemy territory, Quentin is surprised by a belligerent enemy determined to defend his homeland.
Quentin and Flora is a moving tale of courage, heroism and young love denied, no matter the influence of the rich and politically powerful. Set against the backdrop of Theodore Roosevelt’s lofty expectations for his sons and his own tragic demise, it is a richly-drawn and gripping tale for the ages, superbly written and forcefully told. A classic page-turner with lessons for today, Quentin and Flora will compel you to laugh and weep.