Art & Culture

Published on September 28th, 2020 | by Chloe Niccolo

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Book Review: “Rosemary, the Hidden Kennedy Daughter”

The Kennedys, one would think they knew everything, and yet…

In 1918, the Spanish flu spreads like a wildfire across the globe. On Friday, September 13, Rose Kennedy gives birth to her third child, a girl the couple names Rosemary. At the age of one, the little girl was discovered to be developmentally disabled. The Kennedys will ignore their daughter’s handicap first, they enroll her in a normal school, then they attempted homeschooling, finally putting her in a boarding school. Over the years her condition worsens, her outbursts of anger become more violent and Rosemary becomes a threat to the notoriety of the family. Joe, her father, will end up making a critical decision: to have his daughter undergo a lobotomy…

The author, who’s a historian, traces the Kennedy’s family tree to not only show us the customs and traditions of that era, but also to help us understand the psychology of the characters of that time. The first part is more centered on Rose Kennedy, (Rosemary’s mother).

Rosemary’s story begins badly even long before she was born. And yet, despite her disabilities and the attitude of her parents, she does not cease trying to please them. We feel compassion but also anger throughout this reading story. It’s hard to remain indifferent to the behavior of her parents, obsessed with their social appearances and saying the right things. The Kennedys will come to hide their youngest daughter from the general public. Even the FBI with J. Edgar Hoover at the helm won’t be able to dig up any more information. Note, the entire process of the lobotomy is quite murky. It’s only after the death of the patriarch that the lips will begin to loosen.

A fairly short story, (in pages), but lengthy in chapters, which tarnishes the veneer of the Kennedy myth and reminds us of events from an inglorious, and (often forgotten) past of this praised family.

Rosemary, the Hidden Kennedy Daughter – Kate Clifford Larson – Trad. Marie-Anne de Béru – Editions des Arènes – 2016

#USA #Boston #History #Biography #Story #Kennedy #Handicap #Rosemary, the Hidden Kennedy Daughter

This article was translated in English by John Wilmot.


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