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Rosemary  By  cover art

Rosemary

By: Kate Clifford Larson
Narrated by: Bernadette Dunne
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Publisher's Summary

They were the most prominent American family of the 20th century. The daughter they secreted away made all the difference.

Joe and Rose Kennedy's strikingly beautiful daughter, Rosemary, attended exclusive schools, was presented as a debutante to the queen of England, and traveled the world with her high-spirited sisters. And yet Rosemary was intellectually disabled - a secret fiercely guarded by her powerful and glamorous family.

Major new sources - Rose Kennedy's diaries and correspondence, school and doctors' letters, and exclusive family interviews - bring Rosemary to life as a girl adored but left far behind by her competitive siblings. Kate Larson reveals both the sensitive care Rose and Joe gave to Rosemary and then, as the family's standing reached an apex, the often desperate and duplicitous arrangements the Kennedys made to keep her away from home as she became increasingly intractable in her early 20s. Finally, Larson illuminates Joe's decision to have Rosemary lobotomized at age 23 and the family's complicity in keeping the secret.

Rosemary delivers a profoundly moving coda: JFK visited Rosemary for the first time while campaigning in the Midwest; she had been living isolated in a Wisconsin institution for nearly 20 years. Only then did the siblings understand what had happened to Rosemary and bring her home for loving family visits. It was a reckoning that inspired them to direct attention to the plight of the disabled, transforming the lives of millions.

©2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc. (P)2015 Blackstone Audiobooks

What listeners say about Rosemary

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

HOW VERY SAD....!!!

This was absolutely heartbreaking. Joseph Kennedy, Sr. should be ashamed of himself what he did to a beautiful daughter out of greed, politics, and VANITY. Jean Kennedy is the last surviving child of Joe and Rose Kennedy. This is a family full of secrets. What a waste, what a miserable existence this family has most often times brought upon themselves. This book only strengthened my beliefs about how horrible a person Joseph Kennedy, Sr. was. This legacy follows them all to this day. How very sad -- How very shameful.

Good book well worth a listen. A little bit of history explains a lot.

37 people found this helpful

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Illuminating and moving.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Fascinating true story, good writing, excellent narration. Yes!

What was one of the most memorable moments of Rosemary?

Too numerous to describe here. Perhaps the most notable was Rosemary's birth. Clearly neglect if not outright malpractice caused brain damage in the poor baby and thus altered many lives in the process. The second most memorable moment was when Rosemary's father opted to have his daughter lobotomized years later, in an effort to make her placid and controllable, without consulting his wife--tragic.

Which scene was your favorite?

The prom where Rosemary was accompanied by her soon to be famous brother--a magical and loving moment.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes. I wanted to keep listening, not for the sake of suspense but because I had become a witness to a deliberately obscured yet very significant side of Kennedy family history, and I wanted to stay on that ride until its completion.

Any additional comments?

First, I appreciated hearing Rosemary's story, about which I had known very little. Second, I realized this is just as much Rose Kennedy's story. I discovered that Rose suffered all her life from the controlling men in her life and the decisions they made without considering her needs and desires. Decades ago, I thought Rose was a stiff, old-school Catholic matron, but now I know why she seemed to be so overly devout and full of denial. As for Joe Kennedy, he came across as a self-centered dictator, as he did in every telling of Kennedy family history. Nevertheless, between Rosemary's condition and the loss of their three sons, Rose and Joe suffered more than most, and deserve sympathy for that. The main blessing from Rosemary's life is that her condition, and lack of proper treatment and protection of her rights, led her siblings to champion the cause of the developmentally delayed. The result is our current system of care, which, while still a work in progress, is hugely better than the nothing that existed for Rosemary herself.

35 people found this helpful

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Excellent read/listen

I listen to audible books all the time and usually when the book finishes I think, "I'll have to listen again for I'm sure I missed something". Not this time! Wonderful narration and great story. I was sad, happy, angry and heartbroken all in one story. Now I sit back and reflect how the world has changed and how it has not.

28 people found this helpful

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This Sad Story Bruised My Heart

I don't know what I expected, as I knew about the ultimate lobotomy before I began listening. I knew it was not going to be a joyful, fun listen, but I never suspected I would have experienced such sadness, anger and disgust from a biography of one of the Kennedy clan. It was an important book but oh-so-sad and so difficult to comprehend all that was done to destroy a perfectly healthy baby and a delightful young woman of not quite normal intelligence and capabilities.

Despite your political and religious affiliations, I don't know how you could come away from this story without cursing Joe and Rose Kennedy under your breath as two of the most selfish and loathe-some people you have ever heard about.

Roses fixation on her children's weight, her denial of Rosemary's disability, her ignoring adult Rosemary for decades . . . Joe's womanizing, his selfishness when it came to his career, his role in lobotomizing his daughter to keep her docile, his keeping the reality of his secret decision and its terrible outcome from his family for so long . . . .

Yes, ultimately some good came from the the outrageous treatment of the beautiful and innocent girl, thanks to Eunice's instigation. She seemed to be one of the really genuine and caring people this family produced, and I did appreciated learning about her role in improving the lot of disabled persons world-wide.

Very good narration that took just a bit of time to get comfortable with.

Read at your own risk!

26 people found this helpful

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Like Watching A Train Crash

The woman who stated this work was too chronological couldn't have read this book. The sad part about her telling such a fable - it kept this in my 'to be read' stack much longer than it should have been.

Fascinating book - hands down.

This book will have you thinking for weeks and years to come about the depths that one will go to live up to the expectations of others. If you are not thinking of that you will be wondering that had these two parents taken a different approach to their family secret - they might have given the world something even greater than a President. I am currently contemplating if Joseph Kennedy Sr pushed karma into biting his entire family by his actions. You will be too.

17 people found this helpful

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Heartbreaking, Motivating

I expected to hear about a child that the Kennedys rejected due to her not meeting their expectations. But the author went much deeper by giving a background of the family history. It is disturbing to learn the depths of Joe and Rose Kennedys shallowness and vanity. Rosemary is an inspiration that teaches us that sometimes it is the least of us that make the greatest difference. Newfound respect for Eunice and the Shriver family.

14 people found this helpful

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Turning In Their Graves?

With this release of this book and the last of the Kennedy secrets exposed - Joe & Rose have probably turned over in their graves enough to bore holes into other countries... or at least they should be. This family perpetuated more lies than some of the most diabolical people in history. Everything they represented was a sham, perpetuated to foster the image of perfection they coveted much more than the well-being of their family. God forbid one of their nine children did not do or say what was expected of them... well, Rosemary paid the highest price, but they all paid in some way.

I don't want to spoil this book, so I won't go into details about the absurd decisions Joe made on behalf of the family, as it concerned Rosemary. Rose was no better, as she turned a blind eye and checked out. The kids were raised by assigned personnel. There seemed to be little love in this family, only ambition.

Within their lifetimes, Joe & Rose buried almost half of their children. There were a lot of sacrifices made to create the pretty picture they held on to so tightly.

14 people found this helpful

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Very interesting

A very insightful look into the lives of the Kennedys. I highly recommend this audio book.

12 people found this helpful

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More of a Chronology than a Biography

80% of the book seemed to just list the doctor or school or other institution Rosemary went to by each year. Or where the family lived, went to school, etc.

It seemed as though the author had no significant research or knowledge on the subject, but rather was reading from an Encyclopedia.

The story wasn't uninteresting, but I wasn't left of a real sense of who Rosemary or any other Kennedy was. The book seemed distant and no real connection was made

10 people found this helpful

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Excellence

Excellence! Highly recommend. Well narrated explanation of an obviously well documented and honest look back in time at a tragic situation.

10 people found this helpful

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  • C' O'S
  • 08-16-16

A great insight on the Kennedy family.

Loved it and so very interesting on how her father and family truly adored Rosemary.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Weefeet
  • 02-01-22

Such a sad story

A good and interesting listen. Terribly sad story which highlights the thinking of that era towards people with learning difficulties and/or disability.
Only thing that grated on me was the readers descent into a babyish voice when narrating Rosemary's letters.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Elli Lawson
  • 11-14-22

Read by the talking clock

I listened to this being curious about the family. As soon as it started I prayed the narrator was only introducing the book. It’s monotonous. The story IS interesting but I can’t sit though another minute.

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  • Tracy Jane Campbell
  • 12-31-21

A very interesting read.

My grandmother adored the Kennedys because they were Roman Catholic. Listening to this book I was left feeling that Rose and Joe were despicable individuals. Their influence was so malign that it is no surprise that the family were and I guess still are so troubled.

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  • Alice Lane
  • 12-16-21

interesting story about Rosemary Kennedy

I enjoyed this but deeply saddened by the way a clearly autistic young lady was treated because of misunderstanding about condition. Performing a lobotomy was absolutely criminal and hd a tragic impact on this poor girl's life. Thank God this procedure has now been banned. I don't know if I liked the Kennedy family much. Rose Kennedy did not come across very well.

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  • NH Stevens
  • 11-29-21

A touching tale of triumph through adversity

A beautiful reading of an extraordinary life of an extremely disabled woman, always supported by her famous, loving family.

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  • diane martin
  • 11-24-21

Family

Very interesting full of information about the whole of the Kennedy family. . I did struggle with concentration though.

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  • J Lara
  • 11-12-21

Absolutely heart breaking

Freeman was a bastard!
Poor Rosemary, heart breaking, let down massively by her Dad. The person who should have protected her.

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  • julee latimer
  • 01-03-22

Sad and Uplifting

A wonderfully interesting story of the Kennedy clan and their legacy. Thoroughly enjoyed the sociological and historical aspects that shape America today. The tale of Rosie and the changes in society's views and treatment of the mentally challenged were both fascinating and harrowing. Narration was excellent.

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  • MarnieB
  • 01-15-21

Rosemary

An astounding story of an incredible woman. I am so glad I listened to this story. Her life has given me so much to think about. Thank you Kate Clifford Larson.. As usual Bernadette Dunne has done a great job. Thank you.