Taraborrelli (The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, 2009, etc.) continues the Kennedy family saga begun in Jackie, Ethel, Joan: Women of Camelot (2000).
We have met them before: the martyred president’s widow Jackie, the cigar-smoking Eunice, the beloved paterfamilias Joseph, the mother Rose, the changed-man Bobby, Ted of Chappaquiddick, the raucous Ethel, etc. In this gossipy, admiring story of the Kennedys of Massachusetts in the four decades after Bobby’s 1968 assassination, Taraborrelli celebrates the enduring appeal of America’s royal family and rehashes the feuds, scandals and heartbreaks that have made them so human. Again and again, he shows the family closing ranks: “The Kennedys would do what they always did in such situations,” he writes of Ted’s crisis with the girl in the car on the bridge. “They would come together.” This larger-than-life clan, striving to serve while grappling with the Kennedy “curse,” certainly lends itself to soap opera (Jackie, Ethel, Joan became a TV mini-series), and Taraborrelli gathers every luscious detail of the scandals, arrests, affairs, overdoses and bad-boy antics that have marked the post-Camelot years. It’s all here: Jackie’s marriage negotiations with Aristotle Onassis, Ted picking up young women in bars with his sons, the dangerous ski game at Aspen that took Michael Kennedy’s life, the interventions to halt young David Kennedy’s drug abuse, William Kennedy Smith’s trial on rape charges in Palm Beach and the deaths in recent years of Rosemary, Ted and Sargent Shriver. The author reveals the family’s most intimate details, and some readers will wish the author had taken his cue from the Cape Cod photographer who stopped shooting pictures of 103-year-old Rose Kennedy: “She was so wasted away…it felt like an invasion of privacy to even photograph her.”
A big, juicy read for Kennedy fans.