Michelle's Reviews > Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath

Once Upon a Secret by Mimi Alford
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's review
Feb 11, 2012

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bookshelves: 2012, memoir
Read in February, 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 this a secret from the people she loved. And it’s crazy that JFK would call the communal phone in the dorm and ask for her and people had no idea.

She is very discreet with what she shares. The sex scenes are no more descriptive than “he took his pants off and then we were done.” I didn’t really feel why she was so enamored of him (other than the obvious) and if there were sparks between the two they did not show up in here. The writing is almost too discreet, which is not to say she should’ve gone into physical details but it gave zero sense for the man JFK was behind closed doors and thus made their affair seem robotic and functional but not the least bit passionate. And maybe it was just that. In any case, a quick read.
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