I pressed the pages on my Kindle much faster than I anticipated. Fairy Tale Interrupted, the recently released memoir by RoseMarie Terenzio, was achingly painful to read—for all the right reasons. Chronicling her chapter as JFK Jr.’s assistant for five years until his tragic death, Rosie, as John endearingly called her, could have been any random girl from the outer boroughs of New York. As she opens up her soul and allows anyone to take a peek at the good times along with the bad, she became a bit of a hero in my eyes. Maybe it couldn’t have been just any girl, and now I’m so thankful to her for telling us this tale.
At first, the title, Fairy Tale Interrupted, seems like a reference to the untimely deaths of John F. Kennedy, Jr. and his wife Carolyn Bessette just as they were beginning their lives together. Page after page, reveling in Rosie’s experiences in what was her dream job, I realized that it was her own fairy tale that came to a halt. The Kennedys were as close to royalty as this country was ever going to get. Once celebrated for their Camelot-like existence, the family has faced more tragedy than seems possible. The sheer size of the massive clan may explain why so much heartbreak has struck family members throughout the years.
Rosie paints JFK Jr. as a strong and incredibly humble man. The son of a beloved former U.S. President, he was as charismatic as his late father and had the loving temperament of his late mother. He quickly became the darling of the political world. Hopes and dreams of having another Kennedy in the White House were placed squarely on John’s broad shoulders. While John almost always ignored the spotlight, Rosie explained that he wasn’t avoiding people, but wanted to concentrate on doing something that would be bigger than himself. George Magazine, the fusion of politics and pop culture, was his greatest achievement, a brainchild he held close to his heart.
The simplicity of his relationship with Carolyn Bessette was a perfect example of how he preferred to live his life. While the media was harsh in its judgment of Carolyn, theirs was a true love affair. He begged her to ignore the critics. Rosie speaks of her friendship with both John and Carolyn as a couple and as separate individuals. John was her champion, her confidant, and her boss. Carolyn was her trusted friend, her advisor and her giggle partner. Their lives intertwined in ways that superseded fame; It was true and honest and, most of all, rare.
On July 16, 1999, a small Piper Saratoga plane piloted by John plunged into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast near Martha’s Vineyard. The plane carried John, Carolyn and her sister Lauren. All three perished. The tragic event of that day was astounding, touching those who knew them as well as those who had watched them from afar. Rosie suffered a major blow. She was stripped of her dear friends, her career, and, truly, her place in this world. The commitment and dedication that came with her position was like no other and with the loss of John came the loss of her identity.
In the last chapters, Rosie details her struggles to move on with her life in a city that seemed far less bright. It took years for her to find some footing. In 2004 she founded RMT PR Management, a public relations firm in New York. Her website mentions her interest in politics, media and fashion along with her love of cooking, the beach, and her ability to skillfully mimic others.
RosieMarie Terenzio is a magical narrator who has lived a life, albeit too brief, that few people can imagine. In the shadows of her famous boss and his beloved wife, Rosie etched out her own place in their lives and now in ours.
Fairy Tale Interrupted