Come To The Edge: A Love Story by Christina HaagCome To The Edge: A Love Story by Christina Haag

Come To The Edge: A Love Story

byChristina Haag

Paperback | January 10, 2012

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The Love Story of JFK Jr. and Christina Haag • New York Times bestseller
When Christina Haag was growing up on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, John F. Kennedy, Jr., was just one of the boys in her circle of prep school friends, a skinny kid who lived with his mother and sister on Fifth Avenue and who happened to have a Secret Service detail following him discreetly at all times. A decade later, after they had both graduated from Brown University, Christina and John were cast in an off-Broadway play together. It was then that John confessed his long-standing crush on her, and they embarked on a five-year love affair. Glamorous and often in the public eye, but also passionate and deeply intimate, their relationship was transformative for both of them. Exquisitely written, Come to the Edge is an elegy to first love, a lost New York, and a young man with an enormous capacity for tenderness, and an adventurous spirit, who led his life with surprising and abundant grace.

Christina Haag is an actress who lives in New York and Los Angeles. She is a graduate of Brown University and the Juilliard School.From the Hardcover edition.
Title:Come To The Edge: A Love StoryFormat:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 8 × 5.2 × 0.6 inPublished:January 10, 2012Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385523181

ISBN - 13:9780385523189


Read from the Book

Chapter 1 Beginning Within you, your years are growing. -pablo neruda In the cool of a June evening long ago, a man holds a child in his arms. Across the field, light is falling behind a bank of trees and resting on a water tower, a dome of red and white checks. She's in a cotton nightgown and her legs dangle. He is wearing tennis whites, but they're rumpled. They always are. No socks, his shirt untucked. Behind them, a shingled summerhouse rambles down to a dock and a muddy bay. Near the kitchen door, a painted trellis is heavy with the heads of pale roses bowing. Every night they do this. He sings her made-up songs and tells her stories. Some are silly, and she laughs. Daddy, she says. Some are of women in long dresses. Some of a princess with her name and a knight who slays dragons. But on summer nights, as he does on this one, he points to the tower and tells her it is hers. Her very own. He tells her, and she believes him. His eyes, sharp like the blue of a bird's wing, gaze into hers. She lays her head against him, hair damp from the bath, and breathes the salty warmth of his skin. She wraps her legs at his waist and curls into him as the story ends and the light dies. My parents were married under a pink and white tent on the East End of Long Island on a July night in 1959. The tent, sheer and billowing and filled with stephanotis and daylilies, was propped for the night on the grounds of a robber baron's estate in Quogue, New York, a resort community some eighty miles from Manhattan. The estate was not on the ocean; most of the grander homes there were set back across the canal from the spit of barrier beach that ran from the Moriches Inlet in the west to the Shinnecock Inlet in the east. There, on the eastern end- standing on the jetty past Ponquogue Bridge, looking at that wide, ancient bay and the cut where the Atlantic rushed in-you could see across to another sandy spit, and miles later, there was Southampton, where lavish shingled cottages were indeed built by the sea, on Gin Lane, on Meadow Lane, on Dune Road. The rented house where they were married, with its diamond-mullioned windows and its graceful veranda, was close enough to the water so that when the wind changed-when dinner ended and the dancing began-the scent of the sea would have mixed with the music and laughter and the heady perfume of the sweet, high-hedged privet. The bride's organdy gown was from Bergdorf Goodman, her portrait by Bachrach, and the engraved invitations by Cartier, and if you thumbed through the glossy black-and-white proofs of cake cutting and veil straightening, you might think children of privilege, society wedding. But you would be wrong. My parents' story was different. They were both Catholic, both of German and Irish descent. They came from small towns in Pennsylvania and Nebraska. My father was the son of a railroad foreman, my mother the daughter of a rancher, farmer, wanderer, and occasional Prohibition bootlegger. They had come to New York to find their fortunes, and on a winter day, seventeen months before the wedding by the sea and twenty-six months before I was born, they found each other. After graduating from St. Mary College in Xavier, Kansas, my mother took a monthlong TWA flight attendant's course. When asked to put in for their home base, she and her best friend swore they'd stick together. My mother wanted Kansas City, but her friend pushed for New York. "Aim for the top," she said. "You can always come back." They tossed a coin, and my mother lost. By the time she met my father, she had been in the city for almost four years and was living in a one-bedroom apartment behind the Waldorf-Astoria with two roommates. No longer a stewardess, she was a Foster-Ferguson model with dreams of becoming an opera singer. She did commercial and editorial print, but not high fashion. She was the girl next door with the winning smile-Miss O'Neill Lyons Club, the Dial soap girl, and the second runner-up in the Miss New York Summer Festival of 1958. And in every snapshot from my childhood, no matter who was crying at the time, she looks perfect-her face catching the light, her ankle turned just so. My father was thirteen years older. He'd been in New York longer and was in his element, as though he'd been born rushing somewhere in a single-breasted charcoal suit, a topcoat easy on his arm. He'd been a pilot during World War II and had flown a Martin B-26 Marauder over Utah Beach. In the winter of 1945, on R & R in Miami, he met a girl at the Delano Hotel and scrapped his plans to join the Flying Tigers and fly the Hump to China. He married her three months later-the daughter of a showgirl and a Chicago industrialist- and they settled in Chicago where he went to Northwestern Law on the GI Bill. But the marriage was unhappy, and when I was ten and allowed to know such things, my aunt whispered that when it ended, my father was crushed. For him, New York was a fresh start. At thirty-one, he became publisher and president of Everywoman's magazine (later Family Circle), before moving on to run a thriving boutique advertising agency. He had no intention of remarrying. There hadn't been children with his first wife, and although he wanted them, he believed it wasn't possible. My father ran with a fast crowd, mostly Madison Avenue types like himself, and twice a month they held "scrambles." To all appearances, these were martini Sunday brunches at someone's Midtown apartment. But the point was women, and the rule was that each bachelor had to bring three "recruits," preferably models and no repeats. My mother went with her friend Tex, and although she was impressed by my father's Tudor City aerie, she recognized the situation for what it was and left quickly. She also found him annoying. He didn't like The Music Man, and she did. He, however, was smitten. Richer men, kinder men pursued my mother then, but my father was fun, and after a date or two, she decided that was what she wanted. On May 4, 1960, six days before Senator John Kennedy won the pivotal West Virginia primary, I was born, the child my father hadn't thought possible. He filled the room in the old wing of Lenox Hill Hospital with balloons and flowers, and smoked Partagas downstairs with his best friend, Lloyd. That summer, as they did for many summers to come, my parents rented an old farmhouse with nine bedrooms, a potbelly stove, two fireplaces, and a rickety old dock on Quantuck Bay, not far from the gabled house where they had married the year before. When I was small, my mother read the story of Cinderella to me every night, at my insistence, and when she tried to skip a page out of boredom, I knew. I didn't want the Disney version, although we had that, too. It stayed on the shelf by my ballerina music box, and she would alternate between the Perrault and the Grimm-the one with the talking doves, the wishing tree, and the blood in the shoe. And when I could read, I devoured every color of Andrew Lang's Fairy Books. I would ask my mother then to tell me the story of how my father had proposed. Her answer was always the same. One day we just started talking about it. One day we just knew. This horrified me. There was no kneeling, no meaningful locale, no diamond slipped into a champagne flute or buried in chocolate mousse. No glass slipper. I kept thinking she was hiding the truth from me and if I just bothered her enough, she'd tell. Despite my badgering, that never happened, and I vowed, as seven-year-olds do, that it would be different, far different, for me. Still-in the wedding pictures that filled the cream and gold binder, separate from the albums of my brothers and me and our birthdays and our bikes, there was a small crown in her hair that held the short veil in place, and her impossibly small waist was made smaller still by the starched crinoline of the dress. The dress stayed in a long, plaid cardboard box tied with twine on the top shelf of her closet at 142 East Seventy-first Street, the prewar building off Lexington Avenue that we moved to when I was three. It sat next to a portable green sewing machine and the hard case that held my father's letters home from the war. I'd look up at the box sometimes and wonder, even though I already knew that the puffed sleeves, sweetheart neck, and fluffy, girlish lines were not for me. I wanted satin-a dress that looked like the nightgown of a 1930s movie star-and an ivory mantilla that trailed the floor. During the Depression, my Nebraska grandmother had eloped a month shy of her seventeenth birthday in a red traveling suit with a cloche hat, and this fascinated me-along with the fact that she was the only divorced person I knew.

Editorial Reviews

“Lyrically and precisely recaptures the frenetic ecstasy of early love.”—The Washington Post   “[A] wistful story of love and ultimate loss . . . The life of a Kennedy is one of great privilege [and Christina] Haag’s memoir allows us intimate access. . . . She doesn’t bow to tabloid sensationalism; instead, she gently dusts off her tender, aching memories and bravely holds them to the light.”—Los Angeles Times   “Perfectly captures what it feels like to be young and in love—the giddiness, the lunacy, the madcap swings between exhilaration and despair . . . Haag is a beautiful writer.”—Entertainment Weekly   “The most honest, most thoroughly rendered, most memorable memoir of young love published in recent years . . . a remarkable work.”—New York Journal of Books   “[A] haunting memoir.”—Marie Claire