Once Upon a Secret by Mimi Alford

Once Upon a Secret

By Mimi Alford

  • Release Date: 2012-02-08
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4
From 1,039 Ratings
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In the summer of 1962, nineteen-year-old Mimi Beardsley arrived in Washington, D.C., to begin an internship in the White House press office. After just three days on the job, the privileged but sheltered young woman was presented to the President himself. Almost immediately, the two began an affair that would continue for the next eighteen months. Emotionally unprepared to counter the President’s charisma and power, Mimi was also ill-equipped to handle 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. After the President’s assassination in Dallas, she grieved alone, locked her secret away, and tried to start a new life, only to be blindsided by her past.
Now, no longer defined by silence or shame, Mimi Alford finally unburdens herself with this unflinchingly honest account of her life and her extremely private moments with a very public man. This paperback edition includes a special Q&A, in which the author reflects on the intense media attention surrounding the book’s initial release. Once Upon a Secret is a moving story of a woman emerging from the shadows to reclaim the truth.
“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

“What [Alford] sacrificed in lucre she has more than recovered in credibility and dignity.”—The Washington Times
“Compelling . . . a polished voice telling a credible story you can take to the bank.”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“Explosive . . . searingly candid.”—New York Post

Look for special features inside. Join the Circle for author chats and more.


  • Sad Reflection

    By Klmyres
    Wow! I'm not sure where to start. What a disturbing tale of a young woman who was used by one of the most powerful men in the world and even consented to being passed around like a bag of Cheetos. Even in her 60s (when this book was written) she seems to revel in the privileges she acquired by being nothing more than a sex toy. She never questions her behavior and how it may have effected his family. All fun and games! In her eyes her greatest "virtue" was keeping the secret. She elevates herself to a position of a footnote to a footnote in history. Stop it! Get real!
  • Do not waste your money on this tale

    By Ka-Ching Ka-ching
    A tale of sorrow at the expense of the family who has lost so much and experienced such sorrow. I am not one to judge but even at the young age of 19 one should know the difference between right and wrong and knowingly sleeping with a married man is wrong. No matter which way you slice it. It is wrong and that makes me wonder about this person's moral compass. She has tried to rationalize her actions but the fact remains that the responsibility rests on her shoulders. She could have said no and walked away. But she did not and that is the story. The human condition. Temptation is a very powerful aphrodisiac. This really is a tale of.biblical proportions
  • Excellent read!

    By Allisiachristopher
    Beautifully written and explained. 19 is such a young age to have such a powerful and delicate secret. I'm so happy she found true love at last!
  • A MUST READ plain & simple!

    By Phil27800
    Wow! Not what I expected. Painful, at times as it touched me at so many levels - the author boldly shares her personal memories of events with JFK and his staff. She NEVER places blame, rather acknowledges her own mindset as that of a 19 yr old female in 1963 as best she can. Nor does she attempt to portray JFK as any one other than the man she encountered as that 19 yr old intern. Quite a feat! Her resulting insight is both humble, yet quietly fierce. The old saying, "You are only as sick as your secrets" - rings true. Her story clearly shows the impact her "secret" has had on her own life, as well as others. So relieved she is finding some peace and joy within herself, and hopefully, continued self-forgiveness. There are a million Mimi's in our world, male & female, differing backgrounds and cultures, differing circumstances yet similar.....Thanks to Mimi for her integrity in sharing her story.
  • Loved it

    By Georgia Momma Reader
    Thank you for sharing. Sometimes our secrets depict who we become. I couldn't put this book down, finished in two days. I am in awe of all you experienced and how you managed to not tell people when it was happening.
  • Once upon a secret

    By bopeep46
    Enjoyed reading this book, a plot that moves along well, brings back many thoughts of the different people we were then. It was a truly different time ; we were curiously naive, children at heart. Too soon we became wizened by life, love, disappointments, and our own secrets.
  • Great read!

    By J.G. 95
    As a teenager I didn't think this book would be fun to read, but it was definitely a page turner. It was very touching and enlightening. Mimi is truly a strong woman for having to deal with this throughout her whole life. It's inspiring to people who have a secret that they can't really share with anyone because of what might happen after the secret has been spilled. It was really interesting to read about some of the things that really happened in the white house during the Kennedy administration especially when I was learning about it in U.S. history just last month. I would recommend this book to anyone with a secret that's hard to tell and needing some inspiration in doing so.
  • Really enjoyed this book!

    By KGF3
    Interesting information about JFK. But the life lessons are what makes it filled with lots of heart!
  • Honest and Enlightened

    By robin allen
    Good for you Mimi! You made lemonade from lemons.
  • Thanks to the author for sharing your story.

    By McLane86
    A great book. A great lesson on the secrets we keep and the effect they have on our lives.