THE RESIDENCE by Kate Anderson Brower
Available now from Harper Audio.
From the Publisher:
“A remarkable history with elements of both In the President’s Secret Service and The Butler, The Residence offers an intimate account of the service staff of the White House, from the Kennedys to the Obamas.
America’s First Families are unknowable in many ways. No one has insight into their true character like 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, engineers, and others who tend to the needs of the President and First Family.
These dedicated professionals maintain the six-floor mansion’s 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, three elevators, and eight staircases, and prepare everything from hors d’oeuvres for intimate gatherings to meals served at elaborate 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.
Combining incredible first-person anecdotes from extensive interviews with scores of White House staff members—many speaking for the first time—with archival research, Kate Andersen Brower tells their story. She reveals the intimacy between the First Family and the people who serve them, as well as tension that has shaken the staff over the decades. From the housekeeper and engineer who fell in love while serving President Reagan to Jackie Kennedy’s private moment of grief with a beloved staffer after her husband’s assassination to the tumultuous days surrounding President Nixon’s resignation and President Clinton’s impeachment battle, The Residence is full of surprising and moving details that illuminate day-to-day life at the White House.”
From the review at Book Journey:
“I absolutely devoured this book. I listened to it on audio and so enjoyed the narration by Karen White. Beautifully spoken, each story was so interesting.”
My recording experience:
This book has some hilarious accounts in it – my favorite story comes from the beleaguered plumber who can’t get the shower pressure high enough or the water temperature hot enough for President Johnson – but what I truly loved was that Brower was able to get to know her interviewees well enough that she, and then I, really cared about them. I found myself tearing up at the passing of one of these elderly gentlemen, who served the White House with incredible wisdom, grace and loyalty. A unique book and I hope an engaging listen!
Listen to a sample here: