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.