In her first book, McKeon recounts her years of working for Jacqueline Kennedy.
In 1963, the author and her sister were brought from Ireland to New York City to find work as domestic servants. After a fairly miserable year with a difficult mistress, she learned about a position just available, working for “Madam.” It was the luckiest break of her life. Upon arriving at the impressive Fifth Avenue apartment house, she was shown into a parlor. While waiting, a young boy, John, and his dog came in and showed her tricks, establishing a friendship that would last for years. Her easy interaction with John was enough to secure a position as a personal assistant. She cleaned, mended, and ironed Madam’s clothes and, more importantly, filled in for the governess, Maud. McKeon’s story is one of so many young Irish girls in service, but her employer’s easy manner and kindness to her staff give the idea that there was little hardship. This certainly isn’t a tell-all exposing personal secrets of the Kennedy family. Her travels with the family to Cape Cod, New Jersey, and elsewhere induced great loyalty, and Madam returned her employees’ loyalty. Her kindness at family loss and generosity when the author married are the stuff of fairy tales. She was also very possessive, and many weekends and days off were cancelled because Madam needed her. When the author fell in love with a man in the building trades, he was invited to the Cape for the summer, helping on weekends as a handyman and joining in the touch football games. Even after she married, McKeon still worked for Mrs. Kennedy, just not as a live-in assistant. In a wonderfully readable narrative, she shares good and bad times with the family and their children, always faithfully protecting their privacy.
McKeon’s delightful memories have been tucked away for 50 years, and thankfully, she has brought them out to share the enchanting magic of Camelot with us all.