This reading group guide for Fairy Tale Interrupted includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
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RoseMarie Terenzio was just a typical Italian girl from the Bronx. She grew up, went to college, got a job, and moved into an affordable apartment in Manhattan. That alone could be considered any girl’s dream, and the fact that her job involved daily contact with one of the most famous men in the world certainly put it over the top. As the assistant to John F. Kennedy, Jr., RoseMarie was in the unique position of knowing John as a boss and a friend. She kept his calendar, sorted his mail, sat courtside with him at Knicks games, and provided advice. With fondness and respect, RoseMarie gives a glimpse into the work, marriage, and daily life of JFK Jr., and recounts what it was like to be in the inner circle of America’s most famous couple. Of course there were amazing perks—the best one being John and Carolyn’s friendship—but on that devastating day in July 1999, it all came to a tragic end.Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. How do you interpret the title Fairy Tale Interrupted
What fairy tales could the title refer to?
2. RoseMarie’s role as John’s assistant was more than a full time job, and with it came glamour and excitement, but also sacrifice. Discuss the pros and cons of her job and whether you think the benefits outweighed the costs.
3. Discuss RoseMarie’s relationship with John. Why do you think she was starstruck by other celebrities, but not JFK, Jr.?
4. RoseMarie credits her mother for the way she turned out. How might the specifics of her background and upbringing have prepared her for the world of John Kennedy?
5. It’s clear that the media and the paparazzi were hard on Carolyn, especially after she and John were married. Do you think it was fair for people to say that Carolyn knew what she was getting into?
6. How did RoseMarie’s relationship with Carolyn differ from her relationship with John? How do you think her friendship with Carolyn affected her job?
7. As John’s assistant, RoseMarie often had to be the one to say no, play the bad cop, be the gatekeeper. Do you think she enjoyed this part of her job—looking out for John’s best interests? How did it affect her?
8. Was there anything revealed about John in RoseMarie’s story that surprised you?
9. When Barbara Walters called asking RoseMarie to say something for 20/20
about John’s death, she replied, “Anyone who is going to come on the air tonight doesn’t know anything and is not a close friend of John’s. Trust me.” (p.206) What do you think of her reaction? Do you agree?
10. Why do you think RoseMarie decided to write this book so long after the death of John and Carolyn?
11. The end of the book includes a lot of death. Discuss the different hardships RoseMarie goes through in grieving for Frank, John, Carolyn, and her parents.
12. How has your perspective on John, Carolyn, and the Kennedy family changed after reading this book?
13. RoseMarie writes, “The entire world knew John or, rather, wanted to feel as if they knew him.” (p.229) What do you think she means by this, and do you think it’s true?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. If you were going to be the assistant to someone famous, who would it be? Go around the group and share your answers.
2. Go online and research some of the George
covers that are mentioned in the book: Cindy Crawford on the inaugural issue, Drew Barrymore as Marilyn Monroe, and RoseMarie’s favorite, Howard Stern chopping down the cherry tree. Which cover is your favorite?
3. The death of JFK, Jr. has become one of those moments in history that we can remember where we were when it happened or when we found out. Where were you when you heard of his death? Share your responses with your group members. For more information about the plane crash that killed John and Carolyn, read the Washington Post’s
coverage of the tragedy at www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/jfkjr/stories.htm