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READING CORNER: Vale club takes an insider’s look at the White House

Books on the Vale Book Club’s reading list can be checked out at the Vale Library. (The Enterprise/file)

“The Residence: Inside the Private World of The White House” by Kate Andersen Brower will be discussed by the Vale Book Club this Thursday, March 4.

The group meets at 7 p.m. at the home of Carol Spears, 683 Cottage St. S.

The book offers an intimate account of the service staff of the White House from the Kennedys to the Obamas, a look at first families through the eyes of the people who serve their meals and make their beds every day. 

Full of stories and details by turns dramatic, humorous, and heartwarming, “The Residence” reveals daily life in the White House as it is really lived through the voices of the maids, butlers, cooks, florists, doormen, and engineers.

These are the people who maintain the six-floor mansion’s 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, three elevators, eight staircases and prepare everything from hors d’oeuvres for small gatherings to meals for state dinners.

Over the course of the day, they gather in the lower level’s basement kitchen to share stories, trade secrets, forge lifelong friendships, and sometimes even fall in love.

Brower tells their story, combining first-person anecdotes from staffers– many speaking for the first time –  with archival research. She reveals the intimacy between the first family and the people who serve them, as well as the tension that has shaken the staff over the decades.

“The Residence” is full of surprising and moving details: the housekeeper and engineer falling in love while serving President Reagan; Jackie Kennedy’s private moment of grief with a staffer after her husband’s assassination; the tumult surrounding Nixon’s resignation and the Clinton’s impeachment battle.

For information about the book club, contact Lucy Hutchens, 208-7393-6954, or Marge Mitchell, 208-739-6777. The book club’s selection for April is “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn.

Note: Review information excerpted from All Good Books Blog, Code 318 and Barnes & Noble online.