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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 to life 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 20s. Finally, Larson illuminates Joe's decision to have Rosemary lobotomized at age 23 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 20 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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Gotta Tellya on 05-30-16
Illuminating and moving.
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Fascinating true story, good writing, excellent narration. Yes!
What was one of the most memorable moments of Rosemary?
Too numerous to describe here. Perhaps the most notable was Rosemary's birth. Clearly neglect if not outright malpractice caused brain damage in the poor baby and thus altered many lives in the process. The second most memorable moment was when Rosemary's father opted to have his daughter lobotomized years later, in an effort to make her placid and controllable, without consulting his wife--tragic.
Which scene was your favorite?
The prom where Rosemary was accompanied by her soon to be famous brother--a magical and loving moment.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Yes. I wanted to keep listening, not for the sake of suspense but because I had become a witness to a deliberately obscured yet very significant side of Kennedy family history, and I wanted to stay on that ride until its completion.
Any additional comments?
First, I appreciated hearing Rosemary's story, about which I had known very little. Second, I realized this is just as much Rose Kennedy's story. I discovered that Rose suffered all her life from the controlling men in her life and the decisions they made without considering her needs and desires. Decades ago, I thought Rose was a stiff, old-school Catholic matron, but now I know why she seemed to be so overly devout and full of denial. As for Joe Kennedy, he came across as a self-centered dictator, as he did in every telling of Kennedy family history. Nevertheless, between Rosemary's condition and the loss of their three sons, Rose and Joe suffered more than most, and deserve sympathy for that. The main blessing from Rosemary's life is that her condition, and lack of proper treatment and protection of her rights, led her siblings to champion the cause of the developmentally delayed. The result is our current system of care, which, while still a work in progress, is hugely better than the nothing that existed for Rosemary herself.
19 of 19 people found this review helpful
By Kristieloo on 11-11-15
I listen to audible books all the time and usually when the book finishes I think, "I'll have to listen again for I'm sure I missed something". Not this time! Wonderful narration and great story. I was sad, happy, angry and heartbroken all in one story. Now I sit back and reflect how the world has changed and how it has not.
18 of 19 people found this review helpful