In 1963, Mimi Beardsley was a naive young American girl, very much a product of her class and time - she had attended the same exclusive girls' school as Jackie Bouvier, now installed in the White House as the president's wife. Which is also where Mimi found herself, as an 18-year-old intern. The JFK White House was a place for which she was not remotely prepared, dominated by the charismatic and sexually rapacious figure of the president. Within days, they had started a relationship.
There are several extraordinary things about Mimi's story. One is that she has evaded notice from any of the biographers of JFK and other chroniclers of the heady days and sexual shenanigans of Camelot. Only by chance did a reporter in 2006 follow up a mention of her name in a book about JFK, and doorstep her - now a married grandmother living quietly in New York - to find out whether she was the Mimi Beardsely mentioned in a passing reference.
This is all the more surprising given the length of time the affair continued - 18 months - and the fact that it was ended only by his assassination.
Mimi Beardsley Alford has decided, after 40 years of silence and deep reflection, to tell her story. But this is not just a personal memoir of a young woman of her generation and class coming of age in the 1960s, and her relationship with JFK. She also examines the significant impact it had on her life and relationships since, why she has chosen to remain silent for so long, and why she feels that this is the moment to speak out.