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My First Ladies: Thirty Years as the White House Chief Floral Designer

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*Nancy Clarke reveals the touching, funny, and illuminating story of what it was like to serve under six administrations and to help each First Lady find her own personal style when it came to planning flower designs, state dinners, and holiday festivities in the White House.


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*Nancy Clarke reveals the touching, funny, and illuminating story of what it was like to serve under six administrations and to help each First Lady find her own personal style when it came to planning flower designs, state dinners, and holiday festivities in the White House.

30 review for My First Ladies: Thirty Years as the White House Chief Floral Designer

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julie Durnell

    I loved this memoir of over 30 years working at the White House in the floral shop! What an exciting career! She writes warmly of her relationships with all of the First Ladies during her tenure as Chief Floral Designer, no snarky remarks. Nancy's floral arrangements and Christmas decorating set the mood for so many people, including the First Family's children. Her creativity and dedication produced outstanding results and the colorful pictures give a hint of all the state dinner and galas that I loved this memoir of over 30 years working at the White House in the floral shop! What an exciting career! She writes warmly of her relationships with all of the First Ladies during her tenure as Chief Floral Designer, no snarky remarks. Nancy's floral arrangements and Christmas decorating set the mood for so many people, including the First Family's children. Her creativity and dedication produced outstanding results and the colorful pictures give a hint of all the state dinner and galas that the White House hosted. I learned so much of not just the Floral Shop but the whole workings of the First Family and White House.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Koren

    Nancy Clarke worked for 6 First Ladies as the White House florist. I did not know what a big job that is or how much input the first ladies have. If you are looking for any dirt on president's wives here you are not going to find it. The author liked and got along with every one of them. At times I wondered if so much money needed to be spent on flowers or decorations but it seems that this is a very important job. This is a short book with lots of pictures and it was very interesting.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Aimee

    2.5... a little slow at times, but interesting/enjoyable to read. It was a little repetitive but she's a floral designer, not a writer. It was interesting to read her observations on the differences of the First Ladies and their preferences/styles. This is a book you can put down and come back to. I'm most definitely not a Republican, however I think I enjoyed reading about Barbara Bush the most. She was so different than Nancy Reagan and of course, Hillary. Mrs. Bush was not frivolous in her 2.5... a little slow at times, but interesting/enjoyable to read. It was a little repetitive but she's a floral designer, not a writer. It was interesting to read her observations on the differences of the First Ladies and their preferences/styles. This is a book you can put down and come back to. I'm most definitely not a Republican, however I think I enjoyed reading about Barbara Bush the most. She was so different than Nancy Reagan and of course, Hillary. Mrs. Bush was not frivolous in her choices and nor did they entertain every day like the the Clintons. The older I get and the more taxes we pay, I can appreciate Mrs. Bush's practicality.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Ashley Woller 4B In the memoir, “My First Ladies: Thirty Years as the White House Chief Floral Designer,” Nancy Clarke shares her memories and experiences while working under six different administrations in the White House. Nancy Clarke specifically works with each first lady, and helps her find their own personal style when it comes to flower designs. In addition, Nancy Clarke would help coordinate state dinners, holiday events, and social gatherings in the White House. Clarke starts off Ashley Woller 4B In the memoir, “My First Ladies: Thirty Years as the White House Chief Floral Designer,” Nancy Clarke shares her memories and experiences while working under six different administrations in the White House. Nancy Clarke specifically works with each first lady, and helps her find their own personal style when it comes to flower designs. In addition, Nancy Clarke would help coordinate state dinners, holiday events, and social gatherings in the White House. Clarke starts off describing her life living in Los Angela’s with her children and her husband in the 1970’s. When her husband was called to fight in Vietnam, she moved to Illinois with her children to live with her mother. At the time, arranging flowers was only a hobby for Nancy. It was something she could do to keep her mind of her husband being away. She decided to take a night class to learn about home floral design. Little did she know, arranging flowers would take her to bigger and better places. Nancy thought floral designing would only be a hobby, but after she working in a floral shop and learning about the Hixson’s School of Floral Design located in Ohio, she instantly knew she wanted to attend. Of course Nancy could have attended a floral school in Dayton, but she wanted the best of the best. Nancy’s husband supported her with all her ideas; so she set out for a few weeks, and discovered a whole new world of floral designing. At the Hixson’s School of Floral Design, Nancy quickly learned how to properly care, color coordinate, design, and arrange a variety of flowers. In addition, she learned the difference between traditional and contemporary designs. While Nancy attended the floral design school, Bill Hixson, the owner of the school, asked Nancy if she was ever in Washington to contact the chief florist at the White House and volunteer as a designer. The next thing Nancy knew was that her husband was assigned to Washington, where she called the chief florist and soon began what would become her thirty-one-year career as a floral designer working in the White House. Nancy quickly became in contact with Rusty Young, who at the time was the White House chief floral designer. Clarke started off as a volunteer working in the White House Flower Shop. What she saw when she first entered the shop was by far what she intended to see. The White House Flower Shop, she said, “was crammed, cluttered, and overrun with flowers, cut stems, and discarded leaves, and had refuse piled up.” Nancy’s high expectations of the shop were by far the opposite of what the shop really looked like when she saw it in person. Nancy Clarke later touches on her journey of working in the White House Floral Shop and working her way up to becoming a successful floral chief. She describes the multiple working expectations she’s encountered with each of the first ladies, from Rosalynn Carter to Michelle Obama; as well as the events she has experienced and the behind-the-scenes action that go on in the White House. A quote that specifically stood out to me was when the chief florist said, “You cannot talk about what you see or hear in the White House outside of the White House” (15). This quote got my attention because it was one of the most vital pieces of advice that was given to Nancy when she first started working in the White House. This quote made me think of the discussion we had in class about the White House Correspondents Dinner that President Barack Obama hosted in 2011. During this dinner, Seth Meyers’ joked about Osama Bin Laden and his location. Little did the world know, President Obama had already set out Special Forces to complete the attack on Osama bin Laden. Especially those working in the White House, this information was top secret and is something that if one were to hear, could ruin the whole plan. Therefore, it shows how trustworthy people who are working in the White House or even close with the president have to be, and how mindful those people truly are outside of the White House. An event that Nancy Clarke experienced while working in the White House was 9/11. Reading about her experience that day personally gave me the chills. Clarke was unable to describe the fear and terror she had the day of 9/11 and even the aftermath of the days since. In the beginning of September, when the school year started, we touched on 9/11 and the impacts it had on all Americans. We talked about how President Bush sent out troops into Iraq, and what we will do next to secure justice. It was interesting to read another perspective about 9/11 and how the White House completely shut down that very day. Nancy describes her experience of everyone, including the Secret Service officers, running out of the emergency exit doors of the White House and all heading north. She recalls watching the World Trade Center being destroyed on television, as well as seeing the smoke of the Pentagon right in Washington. In addition, Clarke adds in the aftermath of 9/11 how security instantly changed in the White House. She had to “go through two checkpoints and have [her] car searched (with detection dog) just to get to [her] parking place...and then as everyone, guests or staff, entered the gate into the actual White House, we all had to run our purses and bags through a scanner,” (134). From then on, the security levels have stayed that way and are even more intensive just to get into the White House. This was a very interesting excerpt to read because it gave a perspective a person who was actually there and experienced the aftermaths of what had happened. One of Nancy Clarke’s last experiences at the White House was handing in her pass on Friday, May 30th. Clarke describes her White House pass as “something that everyone who works at the White House wears proudly,” (170). In addition the to security changes that were made after 9/11, passes were one of the changes that was made at the White House. These passes can be compared to the IDs that we wear in school. In class, every now and then we have discussions about IDs. We discuss how a person could just be wearing a simple Pokemon card and get away with that as an ID. A person can think of multiple reasons why we have to wear IDs, but at the end of the day, IDs are just a name card with a photo that anyone from the outside world can change or create and say it is there’s. Every once in awhile the discussion of IDs and there importance in school systems comes up every once in awhile, but it is interesting to read how important they are in the most valuable of places, especially the White House. In all, Nancy Clarke has impacted the White House and all of the six administrations she has worked with outstandingly. As far as Nancy Clarke’s bias throughout her work of floral arrangements, she has done her job accordingly and has respected the wishes of each First Lady. Nancy Clarke was not one who wanted to disappoint. She wanted the First Lady, and those working in the White House, to be happy with the work she created. From Mrs. Reagan who “was elegant and sophisticated. Barbara Bush –conservative and traditional. Laura Bush --clean, simple lines and monochromatic tones,” (101), to Mrs. Clinton who liked, “strong, bold, and unusual varieties,” (103), Nancy Clarke was able to please each one of them to their preferred liking and specific taste. Throughout Nancy Clarke’s time working at the Floral Shop she was able to make personal connections with each First Lady. Nancy was able to learn each First Lady likes and dislikes and even know each one of them on a personal level as well. Nancy Clarke was truly appreciative to have the experience of working in the White House. I know that she will truly be missed and the White House will never forget her lifelong work.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Paddock

    This is not a literary masterpiece, but rather a lovely historical review of Nancy’s years as the chief floral designer at The White House. I enjoyed reading behind-the-scenes details. My favorite part was this book provides insights to the personalities of the First Ladies which I found very interesting. It’s a very light read and perfect if you want a break from fiction.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    While this started out as interesting, it seemed to circle a little on the same things. It was touching to read how each first lady reacted with their departure from the White House and their respect for the staff working there.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Newman Bricks

    Oh my what a fantastic book. I learned so much about each of her “First Ladies” it was fascinating !!!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Light, fun reading. Not politely. Interesting tidbits about the First Ladies. As a former florist I really enjoyed this.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Linda Gaines

    Lots of photos of bouquets and comments ( all good) on the six First Ladies in the White House.

  10. 5 out of 5

    B

    Not much "dirt" about the presidents and their wives. Interesting how the inner parts of the White House work Quick read. Lots of pictures.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Erickson

    Fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse of details required for WH events.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Marble

    The White House from the point of view of the chief florist. Remarkably interesting.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Abby Wilkinson

    This book is a fun read! A sneak peek behind the curtain of the White House. She is kind and gracious with each administration she worked for.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jenni V.

    I picked this book when I was searching the library catalog for something with a similar title and this one popped up and looked interesting. It was a great touch that each First Lady had something to say about her, either specifically for this book or in notes they had sent and the author shared. Her enthusiasm was contagious and even though I don't know anything about flowers, the behind-the-scenes details of the White House parties and their guests were fascinating. I loved all the pictures and I picked this book when I was searching the library catalog for something with a similar title and this one popped up and looked interesting. It was a great touch that each First Lady had something to say about her, either specifically for this book or in notes they had sent and the author shared. Her enthusiasm was contagious and even though I don't know anything about flowers, the behind-the-scenes details of the White House parties and their guests were fascinating. I loved all the pictures and notes, including the general questionnaire each First Lady filled out with their preferences; there is more thought put into all the details than I ever imagined. Fun fact: they first were allowed to wear pants during the Clinton administration...another effect of Hillary's pantsuits. Find all my reviews at: https://readingatrandom.blogspot.com

  15. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    This is a sweet and simple book by an unpretentious woman who rose through the ranks of the White House floral design staff, starting as a volunteer and moving up to her position as chief floral designer. While it is not written as a diary, it has a bit of that feel to it. In her book, Nancy Clarke, describes over thirty years of experience with floral design in the White House. In the first chapter, Nancy describes how she came to train and work in floral design and her early experiences as a This is a sweet and simple book by an unpretentious woman who rose through the ranks of the White House floral design staff, starting as a volunteer and moving up to her position as chief floral designer. While it is not written as a diary, it has a bit of that feel to it. In her book, Nancy Clarke, describes over thirty years of experience with floral design in the White House. In the first chapter, Nancy describes how she came to train and work in floral design and her early experiences as a new volunteer in the White House. In subsequent chapters, Nancy provides an interesting look at what it is like to be a staff person in the White House. The way she recounts her interactions with the first ladies is often endearing. It is clear that she admired and emulated aspects of all six of the first ladies. Her stories are genuine, respectful, and lacking in sensationalism or gossip. Her stories provide an interesting glimpse into the personalities of the various first ladies. By the end of the book, I felt like I had a somewhat richer understanding of the first ladies based on Nancy's observations and descriptions of her interactions. While I have never had much interest in the life of Barbara Bush, I have to admit that I found myself quite liking Nancy's chapter on her. I was probably the least taken in by the chapter on Laura Bush. I am not particularly interested in flowers or floral design but one does not have to be to enjoy this book. For any readers who are considering listening to this book on CD as I did, I strongly suggest that you reconsider and read the book instead for several reasons. First, Nancy Clarke's voice is not particularly melodious or enjoyable to listen to. As the book progressed and I enjoyed it more, it became less bothersome but still, she may have been better served by having a professional audiobook narrator read her book. Second, it wasn't until I read another review of this book that I realized that the book contained a wealth of photographs that nicely complement the book and are indeed worth looking at. About 3/4 of the way through listening to the audiotape, I went to the library and checked out the hardcover just to view the photos and I am glad I did. Third, I found the first 44 pages of the book (chapter 1) to be extremely tedious and overinclusive of detail. It got so bad at one point that I was waiting for the author to describe the route she drove to work, street by street. I honestly almost gave up on the book while listening to the long first chapter which consumed almost the entire first disk of five. Reading the book would allow the reader to skim through the first chapter and then move on to the much more enjoyable part of the book where Nancy discusses her work with the six first ladies: Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hilary Clinton, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama. I would give these chapters a 4 star rating.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    After reading Michelle Obama's book, "America's Garden", I came across this book by the White House Chief Floral Designer and thought it might be interesting to learn a bit more about Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama. I came away from this book with impressions that matched much of how I thought of these women before. The author tells how each of these prepared for big White House celebrations and, of course, the styles and planning of After reading Michelle Obama's book, "America's Garden", I came across this book by the White House Chief Floral Designer and thought it might be interesting to learn a bit more about Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama. I came away from this book with impressions that matched much of how I thought of these women before. The author tells how each of these prepared for big White House celebrations and, of course, the styles and planning of floral arrangements. For me, the descriptions of arrangements, etc. got a bit tedious. The many pictures included helped some with this. Nancy Clark and the White House staff surely have to be a very adaptable group of people to deal with the variety of personalities they serve.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Behind the scenes at the White House. A pleasant book to skim during short breaks. A lighter touch during another long slog to election day. I enjoy behind the scenes looks at just about anything. Behind the scenes at a TV show, at an international relief agency, at an Antarctic weather station, at a dog-training monastery, etc. I’d read any of these, especially to take my mind off whatever’s behind the scenes in my own job or family. The butler in Downton Abbey would be pleased: things are much Behind the scenes at the White House. A pleasant book to skim during short breaks. A lighter touch during another long slog to election day. I enjoy behind the scenes looks at just about anything. Behind the scenes at a TV show, at an international relief agency, at an Antarctic weather station, at a dog-training monastery, etc. I’d read any of these, especially to take my mind off whatever’s behind the scenes in my own job or family. The butler in Downton Abbey would be pleased: things are much more proper at the White House than I realized. There are certain ways to do certain things. Seven days a week, staff like Mrs. Clarke show up for work around 6 am, dressed in a suit, even though she’s on her feet most of the day. (Women staff members weren’t allowed to wear pants to work until the Clinton administration—so much for land of the free!). Mrs. Clarke deals with ushers and curators and social secretaries. Apparently, she should even keep an evening gown at the office for unexpected occasions like a photo op with the Queen. This book has the polite, lady-like tone of something from the 1950s or earlier. I’ve always felt sorry for the First Ladies. They look like they’ve been trapped in amber. Mrs. Clarke is exceedingly careful not to write anything unflattering about any of them. Normally I prefer snark and dish, but I found her tact kind of quaint. Genuine good manners.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jane Patterson

    We have classes that are offered to Schnucks employees that offer a chance to see how other departments work. One of the classes I took was a floral decorating class and the teacher was very interesting. She was one of several volunteers chosen from all over the county (over 5.000 apply) to help decorate the White House for Christmas. She was there for two weeks in November and said it was something she will never ever forget. That is the main reason I wanted to read this book. Nancy Clarke We have classes that are offered to Schnucks employees that offer a chance to see how other departments work. One of the classes I took was a floral decorating class and the teacher was very interesting. She was one of several volunteers chosen from all over the county (over 5.000 apply) to help decorate the White House for Christmas. She was there for two weeks in November and said it was something she will never ever forget. That is the main reason I wanted to read this book. Nancy Clarke volunteered and eventually became head floral designer for the White House for 6 presidents. I would have rather read a hard copy of this book because of the pictures. (My Kindle only shows pictures in black and white and you can’t enlarge it to read the fine print). I did go on line and found some pictures of the many arrangements she and her staff did over the years and they are beautiful. Very interesting and gave a little back ground into each first lady all of whom seemed to be very nice and she became friends to all of them. Nancy retired in 2009 after Obama was elected to be with her grandchildren and ironically died in Janurary of this year of respitatory problems. I'm wondering if it was due to breathing in all the pollen and sprays they use on the flowers.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Marge S

    Who knew a small town exists inside the walls of the White House. Nancy Clarke reads her book on this audio version. Although her reading voice is not her strong gift, the listener knows by her words she is someone who delighted in going to her place of work. Nancy graciously shares images of six first ladies, always positive, always complementary of each of their contributions to being lady of the House. I tried to image the floral displays and the decorations from her descriptions. With the Who knew a small town exists inside the walls of the White House. Nancy Clarke reads her book on this audio version. Although her reading voice is not her strong gift, the listener knows by her words she is someone who delighted in going to her place of work. Nancy graciously shares images of six first ladies, always positive, always complementary of each of their contributions to being lady of the House. I tried to image the floral displays and the decorations from her descriptions. With the audio, there are no pictures. Had to search the web. WOW, for an interest that started out as a whim, really turned into a gift to the Nation. How sad to read of her recent passing. Glad I had all those hours of listening to Nancy share. If you like ready about the Nations first families, put this one your list.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    The writing style was dry. Not a very cozy narrative style like I expected. It was more like a list of chronological memories. You never get to know the author which was disappointing. She talks briefly in the begging about herself, mainly how her childhood inspired her love of flowers. I would have liked more about her, her family, and how her job affected her personal life. For all that, once the books gets into specific chapters about each first lady, I found it more interesting and readable. The writing style was dry. Not a very cozy narrative style like I expected. It was more like a list of chronological memories. You never get to know the author which was disappointing. She talks briefly in the begging about herself, mainly how her childhood inspired her love of flowers. I would have liked more about her, her family, and how her job affected her personal life. For all that, once the books gets into specific chapters about each first lady, I found it more interesting and readable. I would have liked even more stories and details, especially about the planning of the big events. The pictures were priceless, they really helped the book. Overall this is a very short, somewhat dry, but nevertheless interesting read. Also a very quick read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Beth Baier

    I recommended this book for our monthly book club and read it a second time... my thoughts are the same as I wrote before! I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I have always been interested in the 'First Family' and the 'White House'... ever since Jackie Kennedy made the record based on a tour of the White House in the early 60's. The behind the scenes information was so interesting to me... and reading about the various events, how they planned the decor with the First Lady, how they planned a I recommended this book for our monthly book club and read it a second time... my thoughts are the same as I wrote before! I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I have always been interested in the 'First Family' and the 'White House'... ever since Jackie Kennedy made the record based on a tour of the White House in the early 60's. The behind the scenes information was so interesting to me... and reading about the various events, how they planned the decor with the First Lady, how they planned a different Christmas theme each year beginning in Jan/Feb... I loved studying the pictures of the beautifully set tables and room decor. Nancy Clarke had an amazing career at the WH... and I am thankful that she wrote this book to share the memories with everyone! A GOOD READ for sure!!!!!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    This book was such a pleasant surprise. Nancy Clark was the chief floral designer at the White House and was there from Carter through Obama. All the first ladies wrote short introductions to her chapters (except for Hillary, shocking), and her insight was fascinating. What I was particularly impressed with was that even though Nancy had her favorites (Barbara Bush and possibly Michelle Obama), she never said a bad thing about any of the First Ladies who she perhaps had some trouble working with This book was such a pleasant surprise. Nancy Clark was the chief floral designer at the White House and was there from Carter through Obama. All the first ladies wrote short introductions to her chapters (except for Hillary, shocking), and her insight was fascinating. What I was particularly impressed with was that even though Nancy had her favorites (Barbara Bush and possibly Michelle Obama), she never said a bad thing about any of the First Ladies who she perhaps had some trouble working with (Nancy Reagan and Hillary Clinton). Yet despite her respect for their authority, this book remained both honest and engaging. I was sad to see that Nancy recently passed away, but so glad that she wrote all her memories down for history to cherish.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Delores Thomas

    I picked this one up because the title sounded interesting. It is the story of a woman who was the chief floral decorator for 5 First Ladies at the White House. So one of her main jobs was helping decorate the White House for Christmas. I was quite interested in exactly how much influence each First Lady had or maybe the proper word is insisted on in decorating the White House in the day to day and on special occasions. I found the most interesting to be Mrs. Reagan and she was also the most I picked this one up because the title sounded interesting. It is the story of a woman who was the chief floral decorator for 5 First Ladies at the White House. So one of her main jobs was helping decorate the White House for Christmas. I was quite interested in exactly how much influence each First Lady had or maybe the proper word is insisted on in decorating the White House in the day to day and on special occasions. I found the most interesting to be Mrs. Reagan and she was also the most involved as well. If the history of the White House or just decorating the White House interests you please grab this book. I enjoyed it and so will you.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Goddard

    An OK read. Clarke's love for floral design and admiration for the First Ladies she served comes shining through. You get a sense of how much work the florists at the White House have to do. But I didn't feel like I learned very much. Maybe she felt, like so many White House staffers, that it's hard to speak honestly about First Ladies who are still living. That's understandable, but it doesn't make for much complexity. It's not that I wanted to see flaws and warts and problems, but rather that An OK read. Clarke's love for floral design and admiration for the First Ladies she served comes shining through. You get a sense of how much work the florists at the White House have to do. But I didn't feel like I learned very much. Maybe she felt, like so many White House staffers, that it's hard to speak honestly about First Ladies who are still living. That's understandable, but it doesn't make for much complexity. It's not that I wanted to see flaws and warts and problems, but rather that I wanted a glimpse of each First Lady in more facets. An enjoyable read but not deeply insightful or revealing.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Heise

    A bit thin, compared to other White House Memoirs; I think the late butler Alfonso Fields's comes closest but is still meatier. On the other hand, for those who are looking for a more up-to-date glimpse into the Residence life (compared to, say, Upstairs at the White House) and a humanizing of some of the first ladies who stood in shadow lately, this is a fun, quick read. Lots of lovely images of the floral arrangements, but of course in this time period one wonders whether cutting back the A bit thin, compared to other White House Memoirs; I think the late butler Alfonso Fields's comes closest but is still meatier. On the other hand, for those who are looking for a more up-to-date glimpse into the Residence life (compared to, say, Upstairs at the White House) and a humanizing of some of the first ladies who stood in shadow lately, this is a fun, quick read. Lots of lovely images of the floral arrangements, but of course in this time period one wonders whether cutting back the public tours has also cut back on the flowers. If you've ever wondered why our First House needs flowers, I think the pictures will be convincing.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kara Larson

    I listened to this as an audiobook which wasn't near as fun as if I had the book in front of me to look at the pictures. However, I immensely enjoyed the stories about each of the 6 First Ladies that the author worked for in the White House. The audiobook was read by the author who isn't such a great reader with a rather dull tone, but the intriguing stories kept my interest. I just happened to be sitting at the crossroads to Crawford in the small town of McGregor while listening to the author's I listened to this as an audiobook which wasn't near as fun as if I had the book in front of me to look at the pictures. However, I immensely enjoyed the stories about each of the 6 First Ladies that the author worked for in the White House. The audiobook was read by the author who isn't such a great reader with a rather dull tone, but the intriguing stories kept my interest. I just happened to be sitting at the crossroads to Crawford in the small town of McGregor while listening to the author's description of her time designing and setting up the flowers for Jenna Bush Hager's wedding in Crawford, TX while staying in a nearby hotel in McGregor, TX!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    I so enjoyed this memoir from Nancy Clarke who was the chief florist at the White House for thirty years. The author provided insights into each of the First Ladies she served under, beginning with Rosalyn Carter through Michelle Obama. She managed to humanize each First Lady without divulging any details that were too personal. The photos of the floral arrangements in the White House were spectacular - what an amazing eye for design the author had. If you enjoy reading behind-the-scene type of I so enjoyed this memoir from Nancy Clarke who was the chief florist at the White House for thirty years. The author provided insights into each of the First Ladies she served under, beginning with Rosalyn Carter through Michelle Obama. She managed to humanize each First Lady without divulging any details that were too personal. The photos of the floral arrangements in the White House were spectacular - what an amazing eye for design the author had. If you enjoy reading behind-the-scene type of books then I highly recommend this one.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Robinson

    Although not particularly well-written, this book is an interesting memoir from the chief floral designer at the White House and her interactions with the the First Ladies of the administrations she served. Her behind-the-scenes moments with the First Ladies provide enlightening insights to their personalities not usually given by press interviews. As a florist, I also appreciated the tidbits she gives regarding the floral arrangements and the many color photos of arrangements done for various Although not particularly well-written, this book is an interesting memoir from the chief floral designer at the White House and her interactions with the the First Ladies of the administrations she served. Her behind-the-scenes moments with the First Ladies provide enlightening insights to their personalities not usually given by press interviews. As a florist, I also appreciated the tidbits she gives regarding the floral arrangements and the many color photos of arrangements done for various events at the White House. A quick read and enjoyable.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    First of all, I read this book on my Kindle, so I missed out on the colorful pics of everything. :( But the book was great! Maybe it was because this book wasn't just about one person. Well, I mean it was about the author, but it spanned the lives of the First Ladies while in the White House. Very cool also that I could also picture most of the flowers she was referring to! Yay! I liked this book a lot!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Interesting tidbits (but not gossip!) about 6 of the First Ladies and their styles and preferences, all written in a positive manner. I listened to this as an audio book, and you would think it would be more exciting to hear the author read her own work, but, this author read her book, but needs more training in dictation,pauses, inflection, breathing, etc. The voice definitely detracted from the book.

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