Reviews of Christina Haag's memoir, Come to the Edge, about her life with J. F. K., Jr. abound. They adequately cover her remarkable achievement in balancing intimate glimpses of Kennedy clan members' lives with respect for their privacy and showing the humanity behind their public facades. There's not much to add about the depth, tenderness, and passion with which she describes this American Icon and their story book romance, but certain other elements of the story have received less attention.
Early in the book, as she wrote about the year she and Kennedy were sharing a house with a group of Brown University students in Providence, I noticed that she said nothing about his family fortune. What she wasn't saying conveyed a powerful message and piqued my curiosity. He did not appear to be throwing money around or pulling rank, content to take the smallest room in the house. As the story continued and her relationship with Kennedy developed, Haag had a fairly steady run of acting jobs, but she also had plenty of time off to jet around with him. Although she does mention that he bought her tickets now and then, or arrived with two boxes of hiking boots to make sure he got the right size for her, she does not directly address the financial implications of their relationship. Never once does she mention his trust fund or indicate any interest, concern, or even thoughts about marrying into a family of vast wealth. This began to seem like an elephant in the room. I'm disappointed that she wasn't as candid about this subject as their sex life—which was not exploited, but lightly touched on many times.
Her story gains considerable credibility with me for the way it eases gently into personal details of Kennedy's life. The level of detail expands in direct proportion to the depth of their relationship. She never crosses the line into explaining his actions. Her delightfully lyrical accounts never stray from that which she saw, heard and experienced, and it's clear when she shifts into reflective mode.
I also found her structure intriguing. Although she does infer a loose chronology in sections ranging from Beginning to After, within each section her memories unfold as if in a dream—fluid and spontaneous. She caroms around the calendar, letting memories segue the way they do in casual conversation between friends, building up a story with layers of collaged accounts. While this may be fine for artistic effect, I often found it confusing. At the end of the book I was left with no firm sense of the timeline of their relationship. I can only conclude that I love the book for its tender and compassionate portrayals and delicious description—in spite of its chronological chaos.
Christina Haag is an actress who divides her time between New York City and Los Angeles. She is a graduate of Brown University and the Juilliard School. Visit her website.
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