She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey Through Poems
by Caroline Kennedy

Hyperion, 2011. ISBN 978-1-401-34145-9.
Reviewed by Lee Ambrose
Posted on 05/06/2011


This collection of poetry is not your ordinary collection by any means. If I could give it a ten instead of a five I would!

When Caroline Kennedy was a little girl, her mother, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, read poetry to her. I remember from her book The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis that this is where Caroline first began to appreciate poetry.

That deep appreciation for poetry has now translated into an amazing collection of works by many accomplished poets including Anne Sexton, Edna St. Vincent Millay, W.B. Yeats, Rumi, Sylvia Plath, Sappho, Shakespeare, and my personal favorite Mary Oliver—as well as many more.

Some of the poetry will be familiar to readers, some not. Some of the poets will be familiar, some not. Some are traditional, some are very modern. And, if you are already fond of poetry, I'd wager a guess that you're sure to find at least one that can be called "one of your favorites." For me, the absolute best treat was to find, in the "How To Live" section, my very favorite poem—one that I carry with me wherever I go: Mary Oliver's "The Journey." Which one will you choose as your favorite from the collection?

Kennedy has brought together nearly two hundred poems that speak to many of the milestones in every woman's life. Each section is prefaced with a short musing by Kennedy about the theme. What is apparent in all of them is that she is keenly aware of the differences and the common threads that make the collection and this book a perfect one for any and all women.

In her Introduction, Caroline Kennedy shares that each of three friends gave her a poem when she turned fifty. She hung on to them and shared them when it seemed appropriate to do so. She states "That's the gift of poetry—it shapes an endless conversation about the most important things in life." She reflects on her fifty year journey in womanhood through poems that speak of such shared women's topics as falling in love, breaking up, work, clothes and things of this world, motherhood, silence and solitude, growing up, and friendship.

Of women, Kennedy says "Women have always been the weavers of the world, literally and figuratively. We weave people together, we weave the experiences of life into patterns, and we weave our stories into words. Poetry has been one of the ways we do this. Poems distill our deepest emotions into a very few words—words that we can remember, carry with us, and share with others as we talk and weave the cloth of life."

Treat yourself to this soulful collection of poems. Savor the wisdom and beauty found in the words of Kennedy and the poets she has brought into your life. Return to them often. Share them whenever you can. Feel them touch your very soul.

Caroline Kennedy is the daughter of President John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy Onassis. She has authored and/or edited seven bestselling books on constitutional law, American history, politics and poetry.

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