The Nine of Us by Jean Kennedy Smith: Review

The Nine of Us

I found a treasure recently at a nearby Little Free Library that I frequent on bike rides: a new copy of The Nine of Us by Jean Kennedy Smith.

I brought it home, and since I liked its historical promise and it was short as well (250 small pages with wide margins and lots of photos), I decided it would be a book I’d read to those at home after dinner.

Jean Kennedy Smith reminds us that she is now the last living member of her immediate family, which must be a very lonely feeling. She wrote this book last year, when she was 88.

“Does she talk about Chappaquiddick?” asked a family member. Well, NO. Think about it: if you were reminiscing about your early days of growing up with your family, wouldn’t you want to remember the good parts? Would you want to throw any family member, now departed, under the bus? Probably not, and so you won’t find any bombshell confessions or salacious gossip in this book. It’s an idyllic look into Jean’s memories growing up in the famous Kennedy family.

I also enjoyed the book as a look back to a time past. The Kennedys were definitely well-to-do: Jean mentions delicious meals prepared by cooks, an audience with the Pope, a mother who had a driver to take her here and there. And sometimes the prose is a bit cloying (she says of Teddy, “He preferred loving to hating and laughing to crying.”). But I blinked back tears when she described some of her siblings’ deaths, and when she described sister Rosemary’s struggles. I absolutely loved the many vintage photos — most of which I’d never seen before.

If you’re an admirer of the Kennedys, or if you enjoy history, I think you’d like The Nine of Us.


4 thoughts on “The Nine of Us by Jean Kennedy Smith: Review

  1. She was the second youngest–the oldest girls were even presented to King George and Queen Elizabeth. Hard to believe they are all gone. In my Kennedy books they are all younger than we are now! JFK would have been 100 this year. Good review–and no, I wouldn’t expect her to write about Teddy’s problems or that her big sister Kick died while pregnant with a married man’s child! (She was a widow).

  2. You’ve piqued my attention with this review, Susan. I’m pretty sure I’d enjoy it. If I ever get done with the missionary biography I’m reading (I’m almost half way through a 513 page book!), I’ll have time to read something else. Thanks for this review.

  3. I enjoyed your review. I had read so much about the Kennedy’s when they were so prominent in politics that I just got tired of reading about them. So I probably won’t read this one but it’s nice to know it’s out there if I change my mind!!

  4. Funny how people remember the scandals but ignore regular family life and the pleasant things that have happened. I read Rose’s biography, (perhaps autobiography?) several years ago, and she was a dedicated, lovely person. Glad Jean chose to write a book like this.

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