Sunday, June 10, 2012

Book Review: Once Upon A Secret

Want to read a moving book about one woman's life and how it was shaped by an early mistake? Grab "Once Upon a Secret", by Mimi Alsford.

Marion (Mimi) Beardsley was a 19 year old intern in the John F. Kennedy White House. She was one of many women who fell prey to JFK, who was a insatiable womanizer. This book is written by Mimi Beardsley, now much older and much more mature.  Despite the racy premise, the book carries valuable lessons about the value of equality in a relationship, and the consequences of one-sided relationships.

The book follows Mimi's life from an early age. She sets the stage well: talking about her family and what values they held, leading up to her securing an internship at the White House. She talks about her relationship with the president and what it involved. I found her evaluation of the situation frank and mature. She doesn't paint a rosy picture, and has a deep understanding of her role and her emotions during this time. The book doesn't end at JFK's death, instead it carries on with Mimi's life and the implications of her relationship with JFK. She explains how it impacted her marriage, and how she changed over the years as she struggled with this secret.

The world changed in this time, relationships became open and frank, and both men and women learned to have expectations from a healthy relationship. A lot of topics that were taboo in the 60s became open for discussion. Mimi shows how this changed her life and allowed her to find true love.

Mimi's understanding of healthy couples and how they find happiness is the true gem in the story. This isn't a story about a girl's summer fling. This is a mature, thoughtful and insightful book about finding love and understanding. About having healthy expectations about companionship and finding happiness in a faulty world. It is a rare gem of honest thoughtful writing. Few people understand themselves as well as Mrs. Alsford does, and even fewer can write about themselves in such a frank and precise way.

(Image courtesy: