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Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermathby Mimi Alford
Synopses & Reviews
In the summer of 1962, nineteen-year-old Mimi Beardsley arrived by train in Washington, D.C., to begin an internship in the White House press office. The Kennedy Administration had reinvigorated the capital and the country—and Mimi was eager to contribute. For a young woman from a privileged but sheltered upbringing, the job was the chance of a lifetime. Although she started as a lowly intern, Mimi made an impression on Kennedy’s inner circle and, after just three days at the White House, she was presented to the President himself.
Almost immediately, the two began an affair that would continue for the next eighteen months.
In an era when women in the workplace were still considered “girls,” Mimi was literally a girl herself—naïve, innocent, emotionally unprepared for the thrill that came when the President’s charisma and power were turned on her full-force. She was also unprepared for the feelings of isolation that would follow as she fell into the double life of a college student who was also the secret lover of the most powerful man in the world. Then, after the President’s tragic death in Dallas, she grieved in private, locked her secret away, and tried to start her life anew, only to find that her past would cast a long shadow—and ultimately destroy her relationship with the man she married.
In 2003, a Kennedy biographer mentioned “a tall, slender, beautiful nineteen-year-old college sophomore and White House intern, who worked in the press office” in reference to one of the President’s affairs. The disclosure set off a tabloid frenzy and soon exposed Mimi and the secret that she had kept for forty-one years. Because her past had been revealed in such a shocking, public way, she was forced, for the first time, to examine the choices she’d made. She came to understand that shutting down one part of her life so completely had closed her off from so much more.
No longer defined by silence or shame, Mimi Alford has finally unburdened herself with this searingly honest account of her life and her extremely private moments with a very public man. Once Upon a Secret offers a new and personal depiction of one of our most iconic leaders and a powerful, moving story of a woman coming to terms with her past and moving out of the shadows to reclaim the truth.
The revelatory, poignantand#160;story of Rosemary Kennedy, the eldest and eventually secreted-away Kennedy daughter, and how her life transformed her family, its women especially, and an entire nation
They were the most prominent American family ofand#160;the twentieth century. The daughter they secreted away made all the difference.
Joe and Rose Kennedyandrsquo;s strikingly beautiful daughter Rosemary attended exclusive schools, was presented as a debutante to the Queen of England, and traveled the world with her high-spirited sisters. And yet, Rosemary was intellectually disabled andmdash; a secret fiercely guarded by her powerful and glamorous family.and#160;
Major new sources andmdash; Rose Kennedyandrsquo;s diaries and correspondence, school and doctorsand#39; letters, and exclusive family interviews andmdash; bring Rosemary alive as a girl adored but left far behind by her competitive siblings. Kate Larson reveals both the sensitive care Rose and Joe gave to Rosemary and then andmdash; as the familyandrsquo;s standing reached an apex andmdash; the often desperate and duplicitous arrangements the Kennedys made to keep her away from home as she became increasingly intractable in her early twenties. Finally, Larson illuminates Joeandrsquo;s decision to have Rosemary lobotomized at age twenty-three, and the familyand#39;s complicity in keeping the secret.and#160;
Rosemary delivers a profoundly moving coda: JFK visited Rosemary for the first time while campaigning in the Midwest; she had been living isolated in a Wisconsin institution for nearly twenty years. Only then did the siblings understand what had happened to Rosemary and bring her home for loving family visits. It was a reckoning that inspired them to direct attention to the plight of the disabled, transforming the lives of millions.
After 40 years of silence and reflection comes a deeply personal and emotionally charged memoir of a woman's 18-month relationship with President John F. Kennedy when she was a college intern at the White House.
About the Author
Mimi Alford lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, Dick. Together they have seven grandchildren. This is her first book.
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