She appears in pop culture occasionally—in movies, TV and podcasts. But for the most part, Mary Pinchot Meyer has been lost to history.
Remembered mainly as John F. Kennedy’s longtime lover and confidant, Meyer was more than just a mistress. She was an accomplished painter. She experimented with LSD with Timothy Leary. She was a popular socialite in the 1960s Georgetown scene, into which she was introduced by her ex-husband, a CIA senior leader. A free spirit, Meyer unapologetically embraced the sexual revolution.
Less than a year after JFK’s assassination, Meyer was shot to death while on her daily walk along the Washington, D.C., waterfront. Her murder was never solved, and rumors swirled about whether her affair and her outspoken advocacy for psychedelic drugs placed her on the wrong side of power.
In his memoir, legendary Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee—who was Meyer’s brother-in-law—alludes to a secret diary she may have left behind. This trippy, intriguing novel imagines what this long-rumored diary might contain. DC luminaries like Katharine Graham and Joe Alsop drift into the pages as Meyer describes the boozy parties that gave shape to her days: “Many things transpire at parties in Georgetown. Cases of hard liquor flow without end. Assignations occur secretly in walk-in closets and pantries. An Amazon River of gossip, rumor, truth, and untruth flows through the conversations of men who run the government, men who spy, men who scribble opinions in newsprint, and all the women who accompany them, like mothers overseeing an alcoholic playground.”
Written in spare, foreboding entries, The Lost Diary of M takes a fresh look at a woman whose mysterious death will likely never be solved. Author Paul Wolfe takes great care with his subject, painting a nuanced, never sensationalized picture of a complex woman.