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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First in flowers
Nancy Clarke worked in the White House for over 30 years, first as a volunteer and finally as the chief floral designer. She tells her story from the days of Rosalynn Carter to the beginnings of the Obama White House. For those readers looking for juicy gossip, it is not here. Clarke follows the principle that if you can't say something good...
She describes the...
Published on October 7, 2011 by wogan

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3.0 out of 5 stars Twenty Five Years As the White House Chief Floral Designer
I was really hoping for more photos and description and advise. The book was ok but nothing I would have purchased if I saw it hands on first.
Published 9 months ago by saundra greensfelder


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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First in flowers, October 7, 2011
This review is from: My First Ladies: Twenty-Five Years As the White House Chief Floral Designer (Hardcover)
Nancy Clarke worked in the White House for over 30 years, first as a volunteer and finally as the chief floral designer. She tells her story from the days of Rosalynn Carter to the beginnings of the Obama White House. For those readers looking for juicy gossip, it is not here. Clarke follows the principle that if you can't say something good...
She describes the style of the First Ladies, how they chose the flowers and place settings for dinners and celebrations. We learn how the White House functions in this sphere. There are problems and solutions and tactful descriptions of all the first ladies and people that she worked with.

Clarke begins by describing how she came to this position. There are illustrations throughout of the handwritten notes she received from the First Ladies and their family members. Best of all there are several sections (32 pages total) of colour photos of the designs, the White House, Clarke and the first family.

She does a good job in explaining the reasoning and requirements for the elaborate decorations and floral arrangements and how each First Lady handled the events taking place at the White House, some at Camp David and the family weddings. She does touch upon how Mrs. Clinton handled herself (nicely) during the Lewinsky scandals and what happened on 9/11 and the days after.
There is an appendix with copies of dinner menus, invitations, notes and letters; an index is also included with names and the rooms of the White House.

This is a book that those who enjoy reading about the inner workings of the White House, floral and decorating design would enjoy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Read, November 16, 2011
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This review is from: My First Ladies: Twenty-Five Years As the White House Chief Floral Designer (Hardcover)
I flew through this book, even though I don't have a big interest in flower arrangements. To me, it was a great glimpse into the lives and personalities of the first ladies. I loved reading about the differing relationships between the author and the first ladies. I also enjoyed the many pictures (such pretty flowers!) and personal notes included in the book.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flowers say a lot, November 1, 2011
By 
JYK (Washington State) - See all my reviews
This review is from: My First Ladies: Twenty-Five Years As the White House Chief Floral Designer (Hardcover)
I really enjoyed the book as Nancy Clarke did a good job illustrating the various personalities of the first ladies, from Rosalyn Carter to Michelle Obama. Ms. Clarke seems to have an amazing memory, and it's interesting just how much flowers could capture the individual personalities of these first ladies.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A little gem, February 19, 2012
This review is from: My First Ladies: Twenty-Five Years As the White House Chief Floral Designer (Hardcover)
This was such fun to read and it gave an insider's peek at the private lives of 6 presidencies from President Carter and Rosalyn Carter up to President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. It seems flowers speak to all of us and this book certainly shows how Nancy Clark, Chief White House Floral Designer for 30 years, was able to design flowers that all the first families enjoyed and loved.

The book is a series of anectodes with wonderful pictures of Nancy's years creating and collaborating with the First Ladies on the floral displays at state dinners, in the Presidents' and First Ladies' private quarters, and at the White House Christmas displays.

Although the book is short, there are a number of stories that convey the First Ladies' personalities in an enlightening way through their decisions about flowers for the White House. I thought that Nancy Clark's story about meeting Hilary Clinton outside a White House elevator one day really brought into focus Hilary Clinton's softer side. Nancy Clark has small stories about each of the First Ladies that brings them into sharper focus and makes them more human.

This is not a book with gossip or slander; rather it is a sweet story of a lovely and artistic woman who helped make history in the White House throught the language and beauty of flowers. It is not to be missed and definitely to be enjoyed and savored!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars love the insights into the White House's inner workings, September 25, 2013
By 
This review is from: My First Ladies (Kindle Edition)
One reason why I enjoy the Julie Hyzy White House chef mysteries is that I love reading about the inner workings of the White House. In this book, Clarke, as the chief florist of the White House for 25 years, knew the White House intimately and over the presidencies of 6 presidents. In particular, she worked very closely with 6 different first ladies, though only briefly with Rosalynn Carter and Michelle Obama.

She's got plenty of fascinating stories to tell about working with Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Laura Bush. Even after their husbands' left office, Clarke remains friendly with each. If you want a tell-all book with plenty of dirt, this is not the book for you.

It is fascinating, not only to see what the inner workings of the White House are but also to see how each first lady operated.

Terrific book!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!!, September 7, 2012
This review is from: My First Ladies (Kindle Edition)
This is a very interesting book regarding the floral department at the White House and all of the banquets, etc., they prepare for!! It was very well written and fast paced. Absolutely no gossip; just informative and interesting writing about floral designing for first families. You will enjoy it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A glimpse into the White House through flowers, June 10, 2012
By 
mlcnl (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: My First Ladies: Twenty-Five Years As the White House Chief Floral Designer (Hardcover)
I downloaded this book on a whim, and it was a refreshing surprise. White House Chief Floral Designer for 25 years, Nancy Clarke takes you through the history of the White House and its first ladies through the flowers arrangements and holiday decorations she created for and with them. It's a wonderful, unique window on the history of the White House and American history, and I really enjoyed reading about how she worked with each First Lady and their families. The logistics of the flower shop are fascinating and the photos and letters she included in the book tell a great story. I most enjoyed Clarke's descriptions of specific state dinners, including centerpieces, table settings, and the context around the dinners. A really great, light read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, insightful read!, February 4, 2012
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This review is from: My First Ladies: Twenty-Five Years As the White House Chief Floral Designer (Hardcover)
Nancy Clarke's "My First Ladies" was a great, insightful read! You get an interesting perspective about life in the whitehouse in the eyes of the staff. This book highlighted the shift of energy from one administration to the next- over the course of 30 years! I highly recommend Clarke's book, I enjoyed it so much.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A LOT OF FUN TO READ AND WHAT AN EYE OPENER!, October 5, 2014
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This review is from: My First Ladies: Twenty-Five Years As the White House Chief Floral Designer (Hardcover)
I decided to purchase this book after reading so many great reviews on it and I have to say, I was not disappointed! The author, Nancy Clarke spent thirty years working at the White House, twenty-five of them as the chief floral designer. She worked at the White House through six administrations! She with the help of her staff, were responsible for keeping the White House decorated with fresh flowers, not just the public rooms but also the private living quarters of the First Family, often changing the flowers daily! She designed the flowers and decorations for state dinners honoring world leaders and dignitaries making spectacular arrangements!

Nancy Clarke worked very closely with the First Ladies in planning an upcoming dinner or party. When she was first hired, Rosalyn Carter was the First Lady and by the time Nancy retired, thirty years later, Michelle Obama had the famous role. In between, she closely worked with Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush. By reading this book, we get a feel of the different personalities of the First Ladies and the style and color choices that they preferred. Nancy also got to meet every president during her time at the White House. The author portrays everyone in an agreeable manner and doesn't write anything malicious about anyone. Before reading this book, I had no idea how many thousands of dollars the White House spends on fresh flowers and decorations! It was an eye opener! Especially during the Christmas season, they pull out all stops and they decorate the White House very extravagantly!

From this book, I also learned that the First Lady takes an important role in choosing the theme of the flowers and decorations for a dinner or an event. Nancy, as the chief floral designer came up with ideas and suggestions, but ultimately it was the First Lady who made the final decision. The author was totally dedicated to her job and worked very long hours, but she she loved every minute of it! She also got to meet some famous celebrities over the years such as Elton John and John Travolta that either performed or were invited to some of the dinners given at the White House. This is a very interesting look at what goes on behind the scenes in decorating and keeping the White House looking lovely. There are lots of color photos too throughout this book! This book is definitely a keeper!
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the first women to work in the White House and her experience under 6 administrations - a surprise gem!, October 19, 2014
This review is from: My First Ladies: Twenty-Five Years As the White House Chief Floral Designer (Hardcover)
I discovered My First Ladies through the Book Expo America. I hadn't expected to spend all Sunday reading about Nancy Clarke and her years in the White House but she tells her story so well and with such fondness and respect for the different first ladies that the book draws you in. Nancy Clarke is careful not to show her politics to us and throughout her years at the White House.

There are some historical moments that she captures but she tells them within the context of her own role at the White House. Sept 11 was a particularly carefully recounted and effectively conveyed. Ronald Reagan's surgery for cancer and Nancy's battle with cancer are also mentioned but on a very personal level. Clarke shows great respect and discretion when she mentions the different First Ladies but she also conveys the humor, friendship and sympathy that she shares with them.

The friendship that Nancy Clarke has built with the First Ladies and her colleagues is unique and well earned. I particularly loved the letters included in the book - personal references, thank you notes, notes of sympathy that reveal so much about these First Ladies and their wonderful manners and Nancy Clarke who earned their respect and friendship.
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My First Ladies: Twenty-Five Years As the White House Chief Floral Designer
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