Once Upon a Secret

My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath
Narrated by: Susan Denaker
Length: 6 hrs and 27 mins
4.0 out of 5 stars (247 ratings)

Audible Premium Plus

$14.95 a month

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $21.00

Buy for $21.00

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

In the summer of 1962, 19-year-old Mimi Beardsley arrived by train in Washington, D.C., to begin an internship in the White House press office. The Kennedy Administration had reinvigorated the capital and the country - and Mimi was eager to contribute. For a young woman from a privileged but sheltered upbringing, the job was the chance of a lifetime. Although she started as a lowly intern, Mimi made an impression on Kennedy's inner circle and, after just three days at the White House, she was presented to the President himself.

Almost immediately, the two began an affair that would continue for the next 18 months.

In an era when women in the workplace were still considered "girls", Mimi was literally a girl herself - naive, innocent, emotionally unprepared for the thrill that came when the President's charisma and power were turned on her full-force. She was also unprepared for the feelings of isolation that would follow as she fell into the double life of a college student who was also the secret lover of the most powerful man in the world.

Then, after the President's tragic death in Dallas, she grieved in private, locked her secret away, and tried to start her life anew, only to find that her past would cast a long shadow and ultimately destroy her relationship with the man she married.

In 2003, a Kennedy biographer mentioned "a tall, slender, beautiful 19-year-old college sophomore and White House intern, who worked in the press office" in reference to one of the President's affairs. The disclosure set off a tabloid frenzy and soon exposed Mimi and the secret that she had kept for 41 years. Because her past had been revealed in such a shocking, public way, she was forced, for the first time, to examine the choices she'd made. She came to understand that shutting down one part of her life so completely had closed her off from so much more.

No longer defined by silence or shame, Mimi Alford has finally unburdened herself with this searingly honest account of her life and her extremely private moments with a very public man. Once Upon a Secret offers a new and personal depiction of one of our most iconic leaders and a powerful, moving story of a woman coming to terms with her past and moving out of the shadows to reclaim the truth.

©2012 Mimi Alford (P)2012 Random House

Critic Reviews

“With the benefit of hindsight and good old-fashioned maturity, [Mimi Alford] writes not just about the secret, but the corrosive effect of keeping that secret.... You can’t help liking her, or her elegant and thoroughly good-natured book.” (The Spectator)

“Compelling...a polished voice telling a credible story you can take to the bank.” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

“Explosive...searingly candid.” (New York Post)

What listeners say about Once Upon a Secret

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    103
  • 4 Stars
    71
  • 3 Stars
    45
  • 2 Stars
    15
  • 1 Stars
    13
Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    99
  • 4 Stars
    60
  • 3 Stars
    35
  • 2 Stars
    9
  • 1 Stars
    10
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    92
  • 4 Stars
    54
  • 3 Stars
    46
  • 2 Stars
    14
  • 1 Stars
    10

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Disturbing

What did you love best about Once Upon a Secret?

I found the book to be a little disturbing due to I was 7 at the time President Kennedy was killed. I looked up to him then and did until I read the book. I think everyone knew he had affairs but for him to do this to Jacklyn and with a 19 year old girl, I find it shocking.
It has changed my view of him completely.....I feel very sad for his family.

Have you listened to any of Susan Denaker’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but I really liked listening to her. She draws you in.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Yikes!

I am old enough to remember the Kennedy "Camelot" story and where I was when I heard that Kennedy had been shot. I have heard rumors and stories about what a womanizer he was alleged to be but this book makes it all so much more real.
I guess we all need to draw our own conclusions about Jack Kennedy. I enjoyed listening to the story but it almost seemed like a fairy tale - so bold!!
Good to hear that Ms. Alford has come through intact and she can now tell her story. Fortunately, I think she is a good and thoughtful writer.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Turning on a light into a Camelot secret

What did you love best about Once Upon a Secret?

It was honest, frank and occasionally shocking.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Once Upon a Secret?

There was a particularly salacious incident in the White House swimming pool.

Which character – as performed by Susan Denaker – was your favorite?

It was a personal historical narrative - no characters, except the author.

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

No.I took time off to think about some aspects before going back to read more.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Well written a good read !

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

No politics involved just a real story about a young girl and her life experience.

What other book might you compare Once Upon a Secret to and why?

A book that would be truthful and tastful about how they tell a story.

Which scene was your favorite?

Her reflections and afterthoughts

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I liked the whole story

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A Real Look Behind the Kennedy White House

What made the experience of listening to Once Upon a Secret the most enjoyable?

A real eye-opener on the antics of the President. Makes one wonder how he stayed on top of everything (no pun intended), and how many others are still out there.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Mimi Alford

Which character – as performed by Susan Denaker – was your favorite?

All were commendable

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Amazed at how all this took place.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Dear God! The Scandal!

Mimi Alford kept her secret affair with JFK a secret for 40 some years which in a society where women are creating and "leaking" sex tapes to get attention is unheard of. Her story is engrossing and shocking at the same time. I am a huge fan of any book that deals with JFK, Marilyn Monroe, The Rat Pack etc. This book is clearly a story that would never have come out had she not been "outed". A very good listen.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Very intriguing, hard to put down.

If you could sum up Once Upon a Secret in three words, what would they be?

I hesitated listening to this book because of my respect and amiration for Jackie Kennedy but I was intrigued and pludged forward. I did enjoy the book and it made me spend a lot of time doing google searches to learn more about JFK's affairs. For instance, I watched the Barbara Walters interview and I felt sorry for Mimi on how she was treated by Barbara. I respect Mimi for how well she handled the interview. While listening to the story, I felt a compassion for Mimi and thought many times "what would I have done". I did have a hard time believing some of the verbiage towards the end of the book, such as when said she disposed of the personal items given to her by JFK. Not something I think I would do but needless to say I never received any gifts from JFK so who am I to judge.In conclusion, I recommend this book and hats off to Mimi Alford.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Half good

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Less personal information after the death of the President and more information about their relationship.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

How easy it was to cover up. Her life after the death of the president

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Kind of blase.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

No

Any additional comments?

No

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

It was a good book.

I didn't feel sorry for her like I thought I would. This was her me too, being taken advantage of by the President during a time when this was accepted, and hidden.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Stop talk about yourself and stick to JFK

Nobody wants to hear about the author’s life, divorce, etc unless it pertains to JFK. Also, she clearly has a biased against Jackie Kennedy. The story presented is to be taken with a grain of salt. I think the truth is probably in the middle.