Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter
Rosemary The Hidden Kennedy Daughter. by Kate Clifford Larson.
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (October 6, 2015)
They were the most prominent American family of the twentieth century. The daughter they secreted away made all the difference.
Joe and Rose Kennedy’s strikingly beautiful daughter Rosemary attended exclusive schools, was presented as a debutante to the Queen of England, and traveled the world with her high-spirited sisters. And yet, Rosemary was intellectually disabled — a secret fiercely guarded by her powerful and glamorous family.
Major new sources — Rose Kennedy’s diaries and correspondence, school and doctors' letters, and exclusive family interviews — bring Rosemary alive as a girl adored but left far behind by her competitive siblings. Kate Larson reveals both the sensitive care Rose and Joe gave to Rosemary and then — as the family’s standing reached an apex — the often desperate and duplicitous arrangements the Kennedys made to keep her away from home as she became increasingly intractable in her early twenties. Finally, Larson illuminates Joe’s decision to have Rosemary lobotomized at age twenty-three, and the family's complicity in keeping the secret.
Rosemary delivers a profoundly moving coda: JFK visited Rosemary for the first time while campaigning in the Midwest; she had been living isolated in a Wisconsin institution for nearly twenty years. Only then did the siblings understand what had happened to Rosemary and bring her home for loving family visits. It was a reckoning that inspired them to direct attention to the plight of the disabled, transforming the lives of millions.
Basically, I knew the story of Rosemary before I read this book.
I admit to having very conflicting feelings as I read about Rosemary. On one hand, considering what was known and not known "back in the day", part of me felt that Rose and Joe and other siblings did very well for Rosemary. Though much of it depended on sending her "away" to places that felt they could help her. If money could heal it would have been accomplished.
But more and more she was someone the Kennedy's wanted to hide. It wasn't right to have so many strong, intelligent children, and have this one that was not. As I said, very conflicting feelings, because today we know so much more and what happened to Rosemary by her father, never would have happened today. But with all their money and fame Joe and Rose kept seeing her as an embarrassment.
Admittedly, for many years they spent a fortune trying to "fix" Rosemary. That part was good. Every parent would do whatever possible to help their child. But underneath you knew it was more for not letting others know they had an imperfect child. *sigh*
Again, I admit, after reading much of Roosevelts reign of presidency and having Joe Kennedy in England constantly telling Roosevelt to "not go to war, not help England".. I really did not like Joe Kennedy. After reading this book... it cemented my feelings about him. And I can't say I grew fond of Rose either, who seemed to raise her children as a JOB, without much soft and tender loving feelings.
I am glad to say that what happened to Rosemary would not happen to her today. But that doesn't take away that it DID happen to Rosemary.
I was young when JFK ran for president.. but I liked him. I also liked what he did in office, most especially, (of course) our race for space, and how he handled the Cuban Crises. I don't know how he would have played out if he wasn't assassinated, but then no one will. He also was the one, once he saw what happened to his sister, to push for laws helping mentally and physically disabled children.
This is actually a short book. It told about the whole family but did not pretend Rosemary was not there. It's a piece of History that if you are interested in the Kennedy's and "Rosemary".. it helps to understand the situation. But I'm not saying the choices were all good, or right.