Customer Reviews: Fairy Tale Interrupted: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Loss
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on January 24, 2012
The Prologue to "Fairy Tale Interrupted" almost caused me to abandon the book before I even read it. It is poorly constructed and does not do the book justice. Some of the sentences are fractured and awkward to read. The sentences do not flow. I found myself rereading the paragraphs just to grasp their meaning, rather than rereading the paragraphs so that I could remember a poignant concept. Take for example this convoluted sentence from page 4 of the book: "And working for John opened doors to places I never imagined I'd ever enter, like the hottest clubs in town, the most coveted events, exclusive restaurants, even his house in Hyannis, which he lent me for a week every summer." (Try to outline that sentence!)
The fact that the author, Rosemarie Terenzio referred to John Kennedy, Jr. as a "Dick", even in her head, in the Prologue cheapened the narrative in its infancy.
I suspected that I would struggle though the book and did not really expect to finish it. I anticipated a fairly shallow account, probably somewhat salacious, not unlike leafing through a People magazine. Boy, was I proven wrong!
While Terenzio's relationship with John Kennedy Jr. is adeptly woven into every Chapter, the book remains a memoir. The reader is always aware of what else is going on in the author's life, especially her relationship with her Mother and her best friend, Frank. The book begins with Terenzio's first association with John Kennedy, Jr. in 1994 in a work environment and chronicles their relationship through his death in 1999. Terenzio became Kennedy's personal assistant as he developed "George" magazine.
The story also provides an in depth description of the author's relationship with Carolyn Bassette before and after Carolyn became Kennedy's wife. Nothing in this book ever comes across as gossipy or fabricated. I clearly understood that the "Fairy Tale" of the title not only applied to my perception of John and Carolyn's life but also to the life the author experienced during the time she knew John and Carolyn. Terenzio does not just describe a shopping spree with Carolyn, the reader is present with them in the store!
John Kennedy, Jr. however remains the book's focus. From his handling of the paparazzi to a staff retreat for "George" magazine, the author captures the heart and soul of John Kennedy, Jr.
Terenzio paces the narrative with perfect timing. I found myself relegating so much power to her, that I naively wished she might be able to produce a different ending to the one we all know. I was transported back to that Saturday in July in 1999 when I was glued to CNN with absolute disbelief.
Without giving away her involvement during that fateful weekend, I was incredulous at some of the circumstances that placed Terenzio so completely in the center of the action. I found it puzzling that the Kennedy and Bassette Family gave this young woman so much responsibility in the days immediately following the tragedy.
The reader cannot help but experience the emotional growth of this author. Terenzio allowed enough time to elapse from John and Carolyn's untimely death in order for her to gain a rich perspective on events and write about them. She captures every aspect of shock and grief. I was overwhelmed by her description of additional losses in her life during this same time period. Individuals have self-destructed under far less stressful conditions and yet Terenzio seems to have remained intact.
Terenzio seems to possess an emotional maturity beyond her years and I appreciated that she credited John Kennedy, Jr. and her Mother for giving her backbone and strength of character. I can whole heartedly recommend this book!
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on January 30, 2012
Fairy Tale Interrupted is an interesting account of the day-to-day life of JFK Jr. while he was the editor-in-chief of George Magazine in the late 1990's. It is written by Rosemarie Terenzio who served as JFK Jr.'s personal assistant during that period and who still holds Mr. Kennedy in awe 10+ years after his death. If you buy this book in order to find out more inside dirt on JFK Jr. or his wife you will be disappointed. Ms. Terenzio's seat at any future Kennedy events is secured.

Her depiction of JFK Jr. is not too different than the general public perception. He comes across as a basically nice guy who takes his life of wealth and privilege for granted. Although he does not want to be treated as anyone "special" on an ongoing basis, he still doesn't hesitate to use his name and prominence to gain access to the most prestigious people or events. The primary theme of Ms. Terenzio's story is about how she, a blue collar girl from the Bronx, was able to become a part of Mr. Kennedy's life which included access to the most exclusive events, both political and entertainment, at the mere mention of his name.

An interesting, but ultimately disappointing, portion of the story relates to JFK Jr's wife, Carolyn Bessette, who has often been depicted as a cold, aloof, self-centered, drug abuser who may or may not have been responsible for their ultimate demise by arriving late for their flight to Hyannis. In contrast to these negative descriptions, Ms. Terenzio describes Carolyn as being funny, friendly and extremely generous. According to Ms. Terenzio, it was Carolyn who took her under her wing and introduced her to the clothes; shoes; and grooming that she would need to succeed, and ultimately thrive, in JFK Jr.'s world.

What is disappointing is Ms. Terenzio's lack of description of the couples' final months together, particularly Carolyn's apparent break down resulting from the intense level of attention from the paparazzi. According to Ms. Terenzio, once the couples' marriage was announced, the paparazzi became relentless, accosting Carolyn on the street and calling her vile names in order to get a coveted "reaction shot" and ultimately causing her to retreat to the seclusion of her apartment. While Carolyn was at her most needy, the decline of George Magazine was requiring the increased attention of both JFK Jr. and Ms. Terenzio, denying Carolyn of her two most vital supporters.

All in all, Fairy Tale Interrupted is a good read, filled with some interesting insights into the people and events of those times. If you liked JFK Jr. and felt that he would eventually become an important person in history, this story will not change your mind.
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on January 26, 2012
When I read excerpts of "Fairytale Interrupted," in People Magazine last week I made a note to check it out. But when I went to Amazon earlier this week and read the only six reviews left so far I wasn't too thrilled with what I saw. Almost half were one star reviews, with reasons why the readers didn't like the book. The rest were rave reviews that sounded way to trite for my taste in memoir.

So I almost went against all the advice I give to readers about vetting reviews and books and passed on "Fairytale Interrupted." I usually check out the information on amazon, but then go to Kobo to order the digital version because I have two Kobo reading devices and a Nextbook tablet. Part of the reason I almost passed was because of the questionable reviews, and part was because of the price...$11.99...which crossed my line when it comes to digital books.

I stopped short and decided to read the free digital excerpt on Amazon. The reviews kept bothering me; they didn't sound right compared to the great excerpts I'd read in People Magazine. I also figured that I'd never pay that price for an erotic anthology edited by someone who isn't an editor and written by people who are new authors. But I would pay full digital price for memoirs that revolved around names like John Kennedy Jr., depending on what I find while vetting the book.

So I opened the Amazon excerpt and started reading the prologue. I should also admit that I'm not a huge fan of prologues...anywhere...and usually skip right over them. This time, however, the minute I started reading I couldn't stop. After the prologue, I read part of the first chapter. And after that, I went over to Kobo and bought the book. (I shop a lot on Amazon, love Amazon, wouldn't know how to live without Amazon, and I'm not recommending any web site in particular in this review. I just don't know how to dowloand e-books to a Kobo e-reader on Amazon.) I wound up reading it in almost one sitting.

One reason the book resonated with me is because I felt close to the author in more than one way. I'm a writer who worked in publishing in the 1990's as an associate editor, I lived in a small studio, and I remember the feeling of excitement within the publishing industry regarding the Internet. This was also pre-911 and Manhattan...and the world...was a different place.

Another reason the book resonated with me is because of John Kennedy. While I was still in college, I went into New York to visit my brother for the weekend. At the time, he lived on Manhattan's Upper West Side, which was very trendy at the time. I'm not sure if Kennedy still lived there then, but a lot of celebs did and it was an exciting place to be for a few years. This is one of the reasons why I set my own book, The Virgin Billionaire, on the Upper West Side. We went to a small out of the way restaurant that weekend and I actually met John Kennedy for a split second. It wasn't even an actually "meeting." I was talking to someone about whether or not it was faster to go through the park to get downtown and he bumped into me and said he was sorry. I didn't even know it was him, until my brother told me a minute later.

The book is not one of those tell-all, gossipy works that talks about things most people consider far too personal to discuss. But there are a great deal of intimate scenes between the author and John Kennedy that sound real enough to be absolute truth. The author is honest and you know she didn't make anything up to sell a book. The integrity is there, and you can almost feel the loyalty and respect Rosemarie Terenzio felt for John.

It's also very well written. As a writer it often bothers me when I see too many common mistakes...even in non-fiction. This book doesn't do that. It flows with an even pace, it's not too wordy or over-written, and I didn't find as many mistakes in the digital version as I often find in other digital books. This alone is refreshing.

The title of the book is bittersweet. John's life, and the author's life, were fairytales interrupted. I could feel how devastated Ms. Terenzio was when everything changed so fast. And, even before I read this book, I always felt it was such a shame John didn't get a chance to fulfill his goal with his Magazine, George. I used to read it from cover to cover. And if John hadn't died so suddenly I believe George would have been what The Huffington Post is today on the Internet. Unfortunately, this never happened.

If you are looking for something dishy and trashy and gossipy, this is not the non-fiction book for you. If you are looking for something well-written and smart, you won't be disappointed. The one thing that still bothers me about the one star reviews I read is that this book, even if you don't like it, deserves nothing less than two stars just for the quality of the writing alone. I'm giving it five.
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on January 28, 2012
After reading the first couple of chapters I was ready to put this book down. I mean I enjoyed Ms. Terenzio's life story, her working for JFK Jr. but I purchased the book to read more about John and Carolyn rather than Rosemarie T. However, not being able to sleep one night I picked it up again and found myself spellbound as a true friendship developed between Rosie, John and Carolyn. There was no dirt, no gossip, nothing that a rag mag would write, but a true story of three people who respected each other and how beautiful a true friendship can be. I enjoyed this book and I would hope that everyone could have a friend as precious as Rosie.
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on February 22, 2012
I read this book during a winter vacation in Florida and looked forward to reading a chapter each night. I don't agree with some reviewers here who thought it was all about RoseMarie. I thought she captured the personalities of both John and Carolyn, showing their generous and thoughtful sides as well as his tendency at times to behave in a spoiled and selfish manner. She also represented their relationship dynamics as somewhat immature, often putting her (RoseMarie) in the middle of their problems and using her as a scapegoat when they seemed unable or unwilling to address their problems. I did not see any arrogance on the part of RoseMarie that some reviewers referred to. She never claimed that this book would be all about John and Carolyn, and she was right to include her private feelings and thoughts. It makes the story complete to say how she felt while she worked for John Kennedy in both a personal and professional capacity. And frankly I think her response or lack of response to meeting Oprah was appropriate and justified. Oprah referred to her as "the helper". How dismissive and demeaning. A helper reminds me of a child who helps mommy. I think someone like RoseMarie who was in charge of keeping John Kennedy's personal and professional life organized would more aptly be recognized as his assistant at the very least. I applaud RoseMarie to have the ability to get the job with John Kennedy and keep it for 5 years. Clearly she is a very skilled, adept, and successful woman. I also did not find the "perks" of the job to be bragging, again as it was referred to by some reviewers. To me it was just more interesting information about her life and what advantages it brought to her by working for John Kennedy. I enjoy reading about people "behind" the celebrities. I think RoseMarie is real and genuine and an everyday person like the rest of us and doesn't pretend to be something she's not. That's probably why John and Carolyn like her so much.
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on February 14, 2012
Before ordering this book, other reviews had expressed disappointment in the fact that the book is about the author - not the life of John Kennedy. It ends up capturing a 5-year period of Kennedy's life when he headed up "George" magazine in NY. However, the literal day to day description of those 5 years from the perspective of his personal "admin. assistant" tells you more about the "person" of John Kennedy and his wife Carolyn than any media story ever has - in my opinion. I couldn't put this book down - didn't get much done in my daily life until I finished it!!! I felt that she beautifully captured the "real" guy JFK Jr. and gives the reader a candid view of the private persona versus the world's perception. I was completely fascinated because I've always believed that there is a real person behind all of the "HYPE".
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on January 26, 2012
Having read the earlier reviews before purchasing this book I admit I wasn't sure what to expect from it. After just finishing it and drying my tears I can say for certain that this was a very good book. I grew up in the 80's and the 90's and remember seeing the news accounts of JFK Jr's escapades (probably many made up to sell news stories), and also can remember studying he and Carolyn's wedding picture and feeling so happy for them. I also remember watching the news coverage after their plane was missing with disbelief, hoping against hope that their plane would be found and they would be fine. Obviously I didn't know them but I felt like I did. Now Rosemarie Terenzio, someone who actually did know them and knew them well, has shared what the story that so many of us were only seeing from the outside, was like on the inside. Fairy Tale Interrupted is such a great title for the book as there were so many fairy tales that came to an end. Thank you Rosemarie for sharing your story. By the way, I should add that although my review makes it sound like this book is mainly a tear-jerker, it isn't. On the contrary, I found myself laughing at many parts of the book as well and crying at others. In my opinion, this is very worthwhile purchase.
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on January 27, 2012
I don't usually read books where someone on the "inside" decides to dish on someone famous, but I think the fact that Rose waited 12 years after John and Carolyn died to write this book lends it some legitimacy

The book is not beautifully written, but it tells a fascinating story of what life as one of the most famous people in the world is really like. Rose seems to give an honest portrayal of JFK, Jr and Carolyn. She clearly admired and loved them both, but she's willing to show their human weaknesses as well.

This book is as much Rose's memoir about her own growth as it is the story of John and Carolyn's lives. Rose recounts the burden of keeping John's secrets (not that he had awful secrets, just a need to try to maintain some semblance of privacy), and of not being able to tell anyone who she worked for out of fear that they would try to take advantage. On the other hand, once her position became public knowledge she was suddenly free to experience the privilege that went along with being part of John's world. "I'm Rose from John Kennedy's office" was her ticket to reservations at the hottest restaurants, admission to clubs, tickets for the hottest concerts (and backstage passes) and more.

The most touching and real part of the book comes when Rose begins to realize that she has lost her sense of self and her own life, because she spends all of her time and energy helping and protecting John (and to a lesser degree, Carolyn). Just as she's becoming disillusioned and frustrated with the situation, along comes the day we all remember - when John and Carolyn's plane disappeared. Rose is left to mourn the loss of her best friends and her career in a single instant - basically her whole life went down in that plane with John and Rose. I wish she explained more about how she finally came out of her depression and rebuilt her career and her life. It would have made this memoir much more complete.

As the assistant to the head of a small company, I can relate to much of what Rose says about her job working for John. I understand her need to protect her boss and his interests, the difficulty in saying "no" to employees who have much better credentials than she does but who don't understand her boss's priorities, the occasional times when the boss takes out his frustration and stress on her, the days she feels she didn't do anything right, and the days she knows she and her boss are in sync and she can hand him exactly what he needs even before he knows he needs it.

Although the writing is a bit choppy and the timeline of this book jumps around sometimes in a less-than-organized way, I recommend this book.
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on January 28, 2012
Over the years I've read a lot about the Kennedys and have always been irritated by hearing them referred to as "American Royalty." We fought the American Revolution to kick the royalists out of this country and now we want to make our own.

OK. I got that out of the way. On to the book. I always thought John Jr. was a handsome hunk (that term would displease the author!) and I was sad when he and his lovely wife were killed. I remember how hard it was to grasp the fact they had died.

I started this book as soon as it arrived from Amazon, I was that anxious to read it. It's moderately interesting, but actually most of it is about Terinzo. What I took away from the book was that she was grumpy, nervous, and had a bad attitude. I wonder what John Jr. saw in her and why he wanted her around. I know-- she was not afraid to tell him off, etc, etc, she was his outspoken gatekeeper, etc. etc. but in reading the book I just felt like she was a woman who prided herself on being rude to people - she even dissed Oprah. Wow ! The book is OK, but I got tired of reading so much about the author's moods and her influence on John. A softer approach would have been welcome.
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on January 19, 2013
A rags to riches story - young Bronx girl ends up working for JFK Jr. and is exposed to the finer things (and people) in life. As a reader, I am cheering Rose on, watching her transform to sophisticated woman. But as the book progresses I can't help but feel she is conflating her importance, her worth. It is very important for this author to express how integral she was to the whole operation, to JFK Jr, to Carolyn and to their untimely death. I just didn't buy it. Sure, assistants often have the inner connection to celebrity day-to-day, but for a better written and more in-depth book on JFK's character, read Carole Radziwill's memoir, "What Remains."
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