REVIEW: ROSEMARY: THE HIDDEN KENNEDY DAUGHTER, BY KATE CLIFFORD LARSON

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Over the years, I have read numerous memoirs and biographies that feature the Kennedys. But none have focused on their first daughter…until this book, Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter.

The author skillfully incorporated the stories of the Kennedy family, their position in society, their various homes and political experiences, and then spotlighted Rosemary as the centerpiece in the way that she affected all of their choices.

Not that she was viewed as more important, but in trying to meet her mental and emotional challenges, the parents were forced to study up and increase their knowledge of what was available, and in later life, her needs and what her experiences had shown them would impact donations, foundations, and laws introduced by the political members of the family.

The experience of Rosemary’s birth, as the first daughter and third child for Joe and Rose, would, of course, set her life on an irreversible journey, facing challenges none of the other siblings would have to face.

The era of her birth and early childhood years (1917-1920s) were absent the knowledge and expertise that would come later. Special education and resources to meet those needs, as well as knowing what to do to overcome brain injuries suffered in birth, would be many years away.

The Kennedy wealth did help to smooth the way to schools, the resources that were available, and experiences of living abroad when Joe, Sr., was an ambassador to England.

The frustrations of Rosemary as a young adult would lead to one of the most chilling experiences ever, in my opinion. The lobotomy.

Still in the experimental stages, (and hopefully, a thing of the past now), the procedure was somehow offered as a potential cure for Rosemary, but I’m not sure her father even believed that there would be a cure. He seemed keenly aware of the dangers of having her out there in the world, behaving badly, jeopardizing herself, and giving the family a bad name, and he could not take that risk.

When in this state of mind, a parent can be persuaded of any number of things. But after the lobotomy, Rosemary’s condition lost considerable ground, physically and mentally, and institutions were her future. Cut off from the world, her family, and life as she’d known it…possibly the only blessing for her was that she might have lost many memories of how things had been before.

It is easy to lay blame on decisions and choices made in stressful situations, especially for a family consumed with wealth, power, and their reputation…but, in the end, we can also blame the lack of knowledge in the medical profession at the time, coupled with the desire of the experimenters to push their own theories forward.

A book that kept me fascinated throughout, it also added more layers to the family picture. I especially enjoyed seeing the photos, showing Rosemary as part of the family. 4.5 stars.

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BOOKISH MOMENTS: LET’S CURL UP!

 

 

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morning in april

 

Good morning, and it’s still Coffee Time in my world, so I’m eager to talk about books and reading.  You might have also noticed my new look here (see new header at the top of my post).

 

I photographed a section of my bookish corner, the shelves built by my youngest son, and the loveseat…a thing from my past.  A place to curl up.

 

 

my bookish corner

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The wicker loveseat has found many places to belong (for a while) in my home, from a spot by the windows to a place at the foot of my bed.

But I think this is my favorite niche for it.  It is where people sit down right after coming through the front door…and before they find the couches (loveseat and bigger couch), where they settle in for conversation, food, or reading.

 

 

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Speaking of reading, I am pondering my books and trying to decide what’s up next.  Currently, I am still reading The Ramblers, an engaging book, but I’ve been distracted.  (Netflix, movies).

Breakdown is next on my list…and I love Alex Delaware.

But Friction has been on Pippa since March, so maybe it can be next?

 

 

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And I’ve been looking at ROOM, too, since I saw the movie already.

 

 

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So…I have a start for some engaging books….and now I just have to finish this week’s list first!  Or not.  Sometimes, I’m whimsical with my reading.

What about you?

Enjoy!

 

 

Books & fairytales - may 16

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REVIEW: THE BOOKSELLER, BY CYNTHIA SWANSON

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Kitty Miller and Frieda Green own and run a bookstore in Denver, Colorado. It is the 1960s, and their idyllic world includes books and all things bookish.

But at night, Kitty lives in an alternate world created in her dreams: she is Katharyn Andersson, married to Lars, with triplets: Mitch, Missy, and Michael. And Michael is autistic.

When Kitty first begins visiting her dream world, her life is almost perfect. But as she spends more time there, she realizes the challenges of this world.

And then, at some point, she must question which world is real? And which world is a dream?

A captivating tale that took me back to what life was like for me in the 1960s where I could totally relate to both Kitty and Katharyn and what choices were involved for each version of the young woman she was.

The Bookseller: A Novel was impossible to put down, and I didn’t want it to end. Which version of reality would we finally have to accept? And what did these dream worlds tell us about the young woman and the choices she had to make? 5.0 stars.

REVIEW: THE GIRL PRETENDING TO READ RILKE, BY BARBARA RIDDLE

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Poised in a moment in time marked by change, Bronwen, age nineteen, is eager to begin a research summer job in Boston. And with the job comes a reunion with boyfriend Eric, a graduate student at Harvard. For the summer, they will be living in Eric’s Cambridge flat.

The 60s had brought remarkable opportunities for young women. At any other time in history, could a young woman have obtained an internship with a Harvard Junior Fellow? Before Betty Friedan’s book hit the stores, had women ever realized all of the possibilities available to them?

But Bronwen is in a state of conflict, too. She is ready for love, but she also wants her life as a scientist.

Over the next few weeks, we watch as she deals with the conflicts in her life, including a less-than-attentive boyfriend, another possible love interest, and her life of commitment to her work. Just as she is ready to complete her summer, sad news erupts. And shortly afterward, she is forced to face another obstacle to her goals.

I enjoyed engaging with this young woman as she confronted her personal and work issues. I liked how she protected herself with her Rilke collection, for as much as she loved science, a part of her clung to another kind of inner life:

“Zipping up her Army surplus parka, she bent her head into the late afternoon breeze. In the pouch-like pocket of her jacket, next to the letter, she felt for the presence of her trusty ubiquitous Rilke volume, her shield against unwanted dinner conversation….”

The Girl Pretending to Read Rilke took me back to my own younger days, when I, too, had to consider my options and make choices. Sometimes impossible choices. 4 stars.

THERE ARE ALWAYS CHOICES — A REVIEW

On July 5, 1970, at the age of thirteen, the author lost her mother and two sisters in an Air Canada plane crash. The devastating loss would follow her forever, resurfacing at crucial moments in her life. But in this first person narration, the author describes not only her loss, but intersperses her tale with snippets of the joyful moments in her family life before the crash.

Thus we see the “before and after,” which more fully illustrates the loss.

Her father’s retreat into isolation feels like an abandonment, and when he subsequently remarries a few years later, the author’s hope of a substitute mother is dashed by her stepmother’s coldness and cruelty.

Like many losses in life, the pain resurfaces at other junctures. As if the wound has merely scabbed over and is reinjured with each new hurt. One of the strongest themes in Repairing Rainbows: A True Story of Family, Tragedy, and Choices is not only how painful loss can be, but how one can choose to look ahead and focus on the positives. As a result, the author, who is joined on a seemingly destined journey with her husband, who had lost both of his parents, begins to create a positive path for the two of them and the three children they eventually have. One of her repeated mantras is that we always have choices. These thoughts guide her and her husband in the lives they create for themselves.

A foray into the paranormal through the use of a medium adds a mystical element to this inspirational story, for which I can easily award five stars.