Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,
It's time for The Cephalopod Coffeehouse, hosted by The Armchair Squid.
The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you've finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same. In this way, we'll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers.
To join the blog hop or to see the list of other participants, please visit The Armchair Squid.
My book choice for December is Once Upon a Secret: My Affair With President John F. Kennedy And Its Aftermath by Mimi Alford.
I doubt if it comes as much of a surprise that President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky were not the first Commander in Chief and White House intern to become "involved." However, when President Kennedy deflowered young Mimi, she managed to keep it a secret for many years:
In the summer of 1962, I was nineteen years old, working as an intern in the White House press office. During that summer, and for the next year and a half, until his tragic death in November 1963, I had an intimate, prolonged relationship with President John F. Kennedy.
I kept this secret with near-religious discipline for more than forty years, confiding only in a handful of people, including my first husband. I never told my parents, or my children. I assumed it would stay my secret until I died.
During 2003, an oral history at the Kennedy Presidential Library was unsealed, along with other documents. The oral history revealed some of the affairs the president had. Although Mimi Beardsley's name wasn't mentioned, it didn't take long for members of the press to figure out who she was. Then they stalked her.
Marion "Mimi" Beardsley Fahnestock Alford decided to tell the truth when asked point blank if she was the intern who was intimate with President John Kennedy. Then she wrote a book to explain their complicated relationship.
I like this book, in spite of its rather salacious nature, because of the parallels to Clinton and Lewinsky, and because of the details Alford provides about the president's extracurricular activities. Jackie Kennedy would leave the White House with the children, and the inmates took over the asylum.
Only a few days after Alford began her internship, President Kennedy himself served as her tour guide around the White House family quarters. The tour included Kennedy pushing Alford onto a bed and taking her virginity. Alford also describes JFK's now well-known skinny dipping pool parties, and the pressure he put on her to provide oral sex to one of his friends--in his presence.
This information makes me wonder more than ever about the characters of the men we've elected to the highest office in the United States. Alford's affair with the president cast a shadow on her first marriage, which ended very unhappily.
Mimi Alford's story is not a pretty one, but she wanted to tell her side of the story, and to set some facts straight. Her book is well written.
Once Upon a Secret earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Approval.