Wednesday, May 22, 2019


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

1. What are you currently reading 

The President Is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson. President Duncan has shit going on. The First Lady recently died of cancer, and he naturally mourns her still. He is fighting a serious but controllable disease that prevents his blood from clotting properly, and could cause a stroke if he's under too much stress. And here comes the stress: Congress wants to impeach him for "coddling" terrorists, and he can't defend himself without putting our troops and maybe millions of civilians at serious risk. Oh yeah, and in separate chapters, we meet a cyber-terrorist and a mysterious woman who is trained as a sniper and is apparently (pardon the pun) gunning for the President.

This thriller is a collaboration between Bill Clinton and James Patterson. I haven't read about their creative process, but I don't think I need to. Jonathon Lincoln Duncan is clearly written by William Jefferson Clinton. Those passages are charming, accessible, and informed by eight years of actually having been President. (I like reading about stuff like the little kitchen in private residence.)  The assassin chapters read like typical Patterson, which isn't a bad thing. Just more predictable.

I'm not even halfway through yet. Maybe the delineation between authors will be less obvious as the story lines necessarily collide.

I've been reading some rather heavy non-fiction lately. This thriller, which practically demands to be made into a movie, is a nice change of pace.

2. What did you recently finish reading? 
Kick Kennedy: The Charmed Life and Tragic Death of the Favorite Kennedy Daughter by Barbara Leaming. When Joseph Kennedy was named ambassador to England, his second daughter Kathleen ("Kick") took London by storm. Fleet Street deemed her "The Little American Girl," and published photos of her on society pages, attending embassy parties and working for the Red Cross. Young aristocratic men flocked to her, and she fell for William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington. Or "Billy," as Kick referred to England's most eligible bachelor. Unfortunately, she was the daughter of a famous American Catholic family, and the Hartingtons literally represented the Anglican Church.

This book captures a very particular moment: London in the late 1930s to mid 1940s. It was a time of upheaval. WWII -- from the lead up through to the the aftermath -- had young people questioning everything. Including the role of the aristocracy and religion. 

I came away admiring Kick's grit and resolve. Her love for Billy, her commitment to their relationship, overcame the objections of his family, her family, and the Vatican. Only to lose him to a Nazi sniper's bullet. Kick is a real-life romantic heroine you'll get behind, and then your heart will break.

However, I wish Leaming had covered a bit more ground than she did. The focus is on Kick and Billy, but I wanted to know more about Kick's relationship with her older sister, Rosemary, and how Rosie's learning disability affected her. Did she feel responsible for Rosie? Did she try to keep her sister's limitations a secret from the Hartington family -- who was looking at Kathleen, literally, as a brood mare who could be counted upon to continue the line? How did Kick respond when she learned of Rosie's lobotomy? Did she consider it another almost unendurable tragedy, like the death of her older brother Joe and her husband? None of this is even touched on, since Rosie is scarcely mentioned in this book. 

3.  What will you read next?  
Maybe another biography? Or a mystery. My TBR pile is stacked dauntingly high with both.

1 comment:

  1. I debated reading The President Is Missing. It's not a genre I read often, but the fact that it was written by an ex-president, who clearly is a subject expert, piqued my interest. I'll be interested to see what you think when you've finished it. (And I'm a bit surprised it hasn't been made into a movie yet).

    Here's my WWW post.