The Joan Kennedy Story by Marcia Chellis; Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe by Anthony Summers - review by Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens

Girlish and Glutinous

The Joan Kennedy Story


Sidgwick and Jackson 240pp £8.95 order from our bookshop

Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe


Gollancz 432pp £12.95 order from our bookshop

According to Amy Greene, who was Marilyn Monroe’s bosom chum in the mid-Fifties, poor little Norma Jean did give her ‘the impression she slept her way to her start’. Using what Anthony Summers describes as ‘an obvious allusion’, Amy remembers Marilyn saying, ‘I spent a great deal of time on my knees.’ It took me some time to puzzle out this cryptic remark, but when I had done so I realized that there are two crucial points of similarity between Joan Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. Both spent a lot of time grovelling, and both were screwed up by members of the Kennedy clan. Other similarities, such as their shared fondness for the bottle, are mere aspects and consequences of these twin essentials.

I thought that I was pretty well unshockable about the doings of that family, half showbiz and half Mafia, that calls itself ‘the Kennedys’. But Marcia Chellis made my gorge contract all over again. Even though her prose is girlish and glutinous, and intended to arouse a sickly kind of

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