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Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath
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Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath

3.47  ·  Rating Details ·  7,266 Ratings  ·  757 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 ...more
Hardcover, 198 pages
Published February 8th 2012 by Random House (first published October 19th 2010)
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Joyce I think that because of the times back then girls did not talk like they do now. They were raised to be more secretive as reputation was everything…moreI think that because of the times back then girls did not talk like they do now. They were raised to be more secretive as reputation was everything and being a virgin was the most important. As for Jackie knowing I doubt that she could not have known. I think that back then men were so in control that she would have thought it was normal. She was also Catholic and I imagine that priests would have always been on the male's side. After all look what we now know about how they all stuck together to blame the victims in the child abuse cases? (less)

Community Reviews

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Michelle
Feb 11, 2012 Michelle rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, 2012
I expected this to be a little more salacious. Mimi Beardsley was the original White House intern, in the Kennedy administration, and was basically outed a few years ago by the press. What most struck me about this memoir is, though she wrote it in her late 60s, it reads every bit the naïve 19 year old she was. I completely understood how and why things unfolded even if I was cringing on her behalf. Her nineteen year old self shines through in a most realistic way. It’s crazy how long she kept ...more
Steven
Jun 06, 2016 Steven rated it liked it
There is a difference between reviewing a book and psycho-analyzing an author. But this book provokes me to blur that distinction.


Characters in books are allowed to be three-dimensional and textured, as multi-layered as lasagna. But when a narrator's approach to a character is unclear, when the narrator in fact vacillates between two opposing views, then the book will have problems. Is this a story of the mutual, tender love affair between the charming young President and the woman he was drawn
...more
Skyring
Dec 10, 2013 Skyring rated it really liked it
America was in love with JFK. Even those who hadn't voted for him in 1960, many of whom selectively edited their memories after his death to say that they had. For 19 year old Mimi Beardsley, recruited as a summer intern following a fleeting meeting with the President, there was no chance.

He literally tested the waters with her, inviting her to his regular lunchtime swim session and later giving her a private tour of the private areas of the White House, where she lost her virginity to JFK and b
...more
Sally Wessely
Mimi Alford and I grew up during the same era, so I could relate to much of what she said about the times. She had the advantage of being a member of the social register that got her into the best schools and gave her access to jobs such as the one she had as a White House intern.

I guess my thoughts about what I felt about the story she has to tell about her time as President Kennedy's mistress could be summed up by my reaction to a photo of President Kennedy in today's paper. The article that
...more
Christie Bane
Dec 10, 2013 Christie Bane rated it it was amazing
I totally, completely loved this book, much to my surprise. I picked it up looking for a tawdry thrill and haven't stopped thinking about it since.

Why? Here's why.

First of all, the author came off as someone who has done a ton of self-analysis and has really thought about what she did from every possible angle. She's a well-educated and thoughtful person and the way she can honestly report her motivation for doing everything that she did, whether they put her in a good light or not, was impress
...more
Cyndee Gero-moore
Feb 12, 2012 Cyndee Gero-moore rated it it was amazing
This was a quick read, only took a few hours, and I think you will find worth your time. This is, at its essense, the story of a woman taking nearly a lifetime to claim her power. It is also a story about a man's egregious abuse of power toward a innocent 19 year old girl.

She could have said no,you say. I challenge any woman who has ever been 19 years old, love and attention starved, and naiive of the ways of the world, to say Mimi Alford could have said no to the President of the United States
...more
Lisa
Jun 15, 2012 Lisa rated it it was ok
Shelves: autiobiography
I have to research more about "Mimi Alford". Right now I'm feeling such conflicting emotions.
* I'm sorry as a young adult being manipulated into being a mistress.
* It's clear she needed to find a voice, but not sure it needed to be writing a book.
* Even with her caring a secret so long, why didn't she just seek a therapist! Give me a break...
* Ok, you had a sexual relationship with a President, but he's gone "Mimi". If you felt it was important to give your side, I agree you are just a footno
...more
Farrah
Apr 06, 2014 Farrah rated it liked it
Hmmmm, I have mixed feelings about this book. Obviously I finished it very quickly, which speaks to how interesting it was. But it was also disturbing.

It WAS fascinating to have this insight into the President's personal world and how things like having affairs with 19-year-old interns got started and continued for 1.5 years with no one apparently the wiser - or at least everyone choosing to ignore it or not acknowledge it publicly. You can't help but be amazed considering the 24 hr. news cycle
...more
Marcy
Jul 22, 2012 Marcy rated it liked it
Everyone old enough remembers where they were when President John F. Kennedy was fatally shot. I was twelve. When I was eleven, I remember sewing my Halloween costume on the Commonwealth Avenue mall when J.F.K. rode by in a convertible. The light was shining on his auburn hair. His smile was wide, his teeth so white. I remember thinking that he was the one of the most handsome men I had ever seen. Since then, I have been fascinated with "Camelot," and the stories that have been revealed about ...more
Erin Lenihan
Jan 30, 2013 Erin Lenihan rated it really liked it
I was quite surprised by some of the low review ratings of this book. I really found it interesting and I believed every single word of the story. I also learned a lot from the book in terms of a presidency that took place before my time. Many reviewers were turned off by the lack of juicy sexual details however I don't think the author wrote the book to divulge those details but moreso to give herself some sort of healing from hiding a secret for so long and to really paint a picture of how ...more
Beth
May 16, 2013 Beth rated it liked it
Ick, ick, ick. If you don't want to be disgusted by JFK, then don't read this book. ICK!

The book is an easy read, but everything about it is disturbing: JFK's behavior, the behavior of his aides, but most of all, the disturbing retrospective account of this 70-year old woman who, even with 50 years' distance, thinks that JFK did nothing wrong. She's pretty delusional, not only excusing and justifying what is essentially multiple episodes of rape, but in believing that she and JFK shared an "inti
...more
Jaime Boler
Feb 15, 2012 Jaime Boler rated it it was ok
Once upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath by Mimi Alford (Random House; 208 pages; $25).

Mimi Alford's story is almost too unbelievable to be true. If her account had not been part of the historical record, I would discount it as fiction; yet, what Ms. Alford claimed happened did happen. Sometimes truth is wilder than fiction.

Ms. Alford had a secret affair with President John F. Kennedy.

But, in 2003, the jig was up. In that year, the famed historian Robert
...more
Alyssa
May 11, 2012 Alyssa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This memoir is well-written and offers a few shocking turns to wonder at (mostly the speed with which JFK completed his "seduction," the extent of the author's willing participation in a relationship that was by turns exploitative and demeaning, and the troubling timing and aftermath of her confession to her then-fiancé). Ultimately, however, Once Upon a Secret proves more irritating than moving because Mimi Alford's eventual self-actualization ends up being so--well, irritating. She seems to ...more
Ivy
In 1962, 19 year-old Mimi Beardsley landed a summer job as intern in the White House. Her job in the press room was to sit at a desk, file things away, and cut press tape before it landed on the ground. It was an easy job just fit for a teen to do...except eventually part of her responsibilities included sleeping with President JFK. So begins Mimi's memoir of how a 19 year-old virgin began a sexual affair with the most powerful man in the United States.

Ms. Alford's honest account of that year in
...more
Antoinette Perez
Jan 01, 2014 Antoinette Perez rated it really liked it
I'd read a review of this book a month or two ago, so when a copy called to me from the library shelf, I answered. And I'm glad I did.

Don't think there's much to spoil here. The subtitle kind of gives it all away. This book is pretty much everything I like a memoir to be: emotional but not overly sentimental; generous with detail that provides context but not gratuitously long; provoking but not salacious. And it's mighty conversational. I am impressed at the ease the author has in her own voic
...more
Erin
Dec 19, 2014 Erin rated it it was ok
I listened to this on CD commuting to a weekly class and part of my problem admittedly was the affectation and drama that the narrator (who was not the author) added to almost every sentence.

With regard to the content, I gather from some of the reviews that there are readers who are irritated that this book was written and consider it an unnecessary taint on JFK's legacy. Others seem to think it is positive that this story was told as an example of a powerful man using his power to take advanta
...more
Book Club Mom
Sep 21, 2013 Book Club Mom rated it liked it
An Affair to Remember?

I wonder how long it will take me to be able to resist the lure of yet another tale about JFK? I was pulled into Mimi Alford’s trap and her attractive book jacket, showing a young Mimi Beardsley in her proper dress and clutch purse and I admit I opened her book and read.

Hmmmmm. The motivation of the memoir writer. Mimi Alford says she was “outed” by another author and felt she must set the record straight and tell her own story. Okay. But what I came away with was the feeli
...more
Abdul
Mar 27, 2012 Abdul rated it it was ok
Wow, what a story. This lady wittingly served as a sex kitten to the most powerful man in the world at the time.

Quick read, not very salacious, she describes the affair in a dreamy naive manner that makes you wonder whether she was a victim or willing paramour.

In all honesty, I am not sure what to feel about this book. I get the sense that she was caught up in the moment and made poor decisions that she is now trying to atone for. She says that she could have easily said no at any point and be
...more
Robbin
Jul 17, 2012 Robbin rated it it was ok
A blurb detailing how JFK had the author, a 19-year-old White House intern, perform oral sex on his right-hand man while he watched is what prompted me to grab this book. If you're looking for more titillating sexual accountings between Ms. Alford and JFK, read no further. There aren't anymore juicy snippets. Sadly, the bulk of this autobio delves into the connections and relationships of the East Coast jet setters and the numerous trips Ms. Alford made with JFK to various locations. The final ...more
Lara
Apr 05, 2012 Lara rated it did not like it
This was trash. I've read so many reviews in magazines, on Amazon, on Goodreads, that proclaim this memoir evidence of President Kennedy as a sexual predator, portraying Mimi Alford as a defenseless rape victim. Well, I found this book very dubious for many reasons. First, why write this at all? What is she trying to accomplish by telling the world she slept with JFK? Seriously! Second, I find it interesting that she would publish this in 2012, given it is both an election year with a Democratic ...more
Bev
Feb 10, 2012 Bev rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography, kindle
I saw a brief news report from Scarborough Country about this book today. This is not a program I regularly watch, so I don't know who the women is on it, but while Joe Scarborough and Chris Matthews talked about the book, this woman looked like she had just swallowed something disgusting and kept making dismissive gestures as if the whole topic was so distasteful she didn't want to be involved with it.

Well...I ordered Alford's book about her youthful affair with JFK and I understand why she wro
...more
Jess
Jun 19, 2013 Jess rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
After I read this book, I wanted to take about 50 showers. JFK was an okay president, and I always prefer it when history focuses on his accomplishments rather than his personal life, but as a man he is straight-up disgusting, and I have to admit that after reading this I am having a hard time thinking about the Peace Corps and the Cuban Missile Crisis and Camelot with the same rosy glow I did as a history-obsessed kid. I guess all of our heroes are just mortal men after all.

The author lacks a
...more
Joy
May 21, 2012 Joy rated it liked it
This was an amazingly good book. I hope it moves me along on my quest for becoming more compassionate. I was totally surprised by my ability to see how a young, innocent girl from a wealthy family could become a mistress of JFK. When she arrived in Washington for an internship as a nineteen-year-old, she was totally unprepared for the moral vacuum (my term) around the JFK White House and was seduced by him on their second meeting. She was in awe of his power (as president) and chrisma (as a ...more
Linda Appelbaum
Oct 09, 2012 Linda Appelbaum rated it it was amazing
This book was so disturbing on so many levels, yet fascinating! Mimi was only 19 and on the job for a couple of days when she was completely seduced by JKF. It was shattering to see that he seduced so young and naieve a young girl. What was more shocking was that he offered her to other men to "take care of them". She was really almost a prostitute and the men around JFK were like his pimps! This girl was so innocent, but we all were then. Her story made me feel uncomfortable and reminded me of ...more
Pam Burzynski
Mar 12, 2013 Pam Burzynski rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I was hooked on the second page. Alford's account of her 18 month affair with JFK was believable and unbelievable at the same time.

Vowing to keep the entire thing a secret, it was years before Alford realizes how the affair, the death of JFK, and "the secret" have overshadowed her life and relationships.

The veracity of the story is compelling, and while the memoir wasn't loaded with extra details, it's surprising, almost, that the author was able to remember as much as she did after suppressing
...more
Mark Taylor
Nov 18, 2014 Mark Taylor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John F. Kennedy once said that the reason we read biographies is to answer the question, “What was he like?” That’s certainly the reason that Kennedy still intrigues people more than 50 years after his tragic death. Personally, I find JFK to be one of the most interesting Presidents, so I was fascinated by Mimi Alford’s excellent 2012 book, Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and its Aftermath. Alford, then known by her maiden name as Mimi Beardsley, was a 19-year-old ...more
Diane
Oct 17, 2016 Diane rated it liked it
Ms. Alford writes a very sad and disturbing story of sexual domination that affected her entire life, becoming a major contributing factor to her inability to establish a satisfying life and marriage for decades. The problem is, she doesn't see it that way. Even at a remove of forty years, Ms. Alford characterizes the way the president completely disregarded her agency and personhood, demeaning her as a collection of body parts perpetually "on call" to service his prurient needs, as an "affair." ...more
Amy Brawdy-Carlo
Feb 13, 2012 Amy Brawdy-Carlo rated it really liked it
Delish....seems credible. Saw her interview with Meredith Veiera. And had to download it right away. What is it with this fascination with jack Kennedy?







Extremely quick read...did it on a snowy afternoon / evening... Our first real snow of the season if you can believe it!
The book definitely filled in the cracks from the Brian Williams / Meredith Veiera interview.....but was not as deep as I thought and certainly not written in a salacious or tabloid - like way. Members of the media say that she
...more
Linda Lipko
Nov 05, 2015 Linda Lipko rated it really liked it
If you like to read about the life of President John F. Kennedy, then this is a book for you. Mimi was a mere 19 years of age when she obtained a coveted internship working with the press corp. at the White House.

Hailing from pedigree and a family of stature and means, she fit the classic mold of high society. She attended the same prep school as Jackie Kennedy. Pretty, charming and easily swayed, within a week of arrival, President Kennedy noticed and seduced her.

The author never portrays hers
...more
Heather Kelly
Jan 24, 2016 Heather Kelly rated it liked it
Honestly, I feel angry as I finish this book. I'm trying to figure out exactly why and it is possible I am being really unfair. From the start, I thought it would be her story of sexual harassment or abuse of women in the 60s to some extent. She was young and felt powerless. It was a different time. But, I think my anger increased with each description she gave that sounded like admiration of the situation. Years later, after time to reflect, it sounds as if she defends his actions and cherishes ...more
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Marion "Mimi" Alford (born May 7, 1943) is an American woman who wrote a book first published in 2011 about her affair 50 years earlier with the United States President John F. Kennedy when she was a 19 year-old intern working in the White House. Her book is titled Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath.
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“Sometimes all we want is for another person to hear us.” 10 likes
“It's possible that in holding back the full truth of who I was, I was also holding back myself, which shut me off from experiencing the thrill of falling in love. That's just one of the many ways my secret has cost me. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.” 4 likes
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