So Monica Lewinsky is shopping a “top-secret” book. And before publishers are even allowed to take a meeting with the world’s most infamous White House intern, they must sign a non-disclosure agreement, reports the New York Post.
It makes sense for Monica — still a one-name wonder 14 years after becoming a global punchline — to protect whatever story she has left to sell and tell in an era when even the tawdriest tales become books and movies. But fiction may be stronger than truth in this case, so maybe we’re in for a surprise as Lewinsky, who turns 40 next July, pitches her book to publishing houses.
Will the hush-hush project be a 21st-century memoir about how she endured the cruelest sort of ridicule during a desperate struggle to claw her way back from “that woman” ignominy as Bill Clinton’s lust interest? It’s a reasonable guess since much has happened to her since she gave hours of interviews to Andrew Morton, Princess Di’s British biographer, for his 1999 book, “Monica’s Story,” the same year she spilled her guts along with some tears in a long ABC News sit-down with Barbara Walters. Among other things, Lewinsky confessed that once upon a time she really and truly believed the president of the United States might actually marry her.
Around the same time, she also earned a fat $660,000 fee from Britain’s Channel 4, in return for broadcast rights to her version of events in Britain and 32 other countries, money she explained she needed to pay off huge legal bills.
But might Lewinsky — who comes across in several old interviews as bright, engaging and sensitive — bypass auto-bio altogether and go straight to self-help guide, thus enabling others who’ve brought personal catastrophe on themselves to learn from her own attempts at image-rehab, esteem building and re-branding? Or will she pen a racy Washington roman a clef? A bi-coastal chick-lit comic romp? A young adult novel wrapped around a cautionary tale? A manual for starting a small business, then coping with failure when said venture — in her case, a line of handbags — goes bust?
In a weird way, I hope she delivers an honest, introspective account of how she managed to clear away the emotional rubble, if indeed she has, and if indeed our celebrity-train-wreck culture will let her 14 years after her world imploded.
Lewinsky was 22 — and Chelsea Clinton 15 — when, with the flash of a thong, La Monica turned the commander-in-chief into what she called her “sexual soulmate” in a “mutual relationship” that lasted approximately two years.
The story broke in 1998, nearly destroying Bill Clinton’s presidency after the bubbly brunette, who grew up angst-ridden and affluent in Beverly Hills, was secretly taped blabbing about those trysts by ex-BFF Linda Tripp, who ratted her out to Special Prosecutor Ken Starr.
Impeached by the House for perjury and obstruction of justice stemming from the Paula Jones sexual harassment case, Clinton was acquitted by the Senate, finished his term and became a wealthy, influential philanthropist who today is a top Barack Obama campaigner.
The long-suffering Hillary emerged from her veil of shame to become a U.S. senator, a once-and-possibly-future Democratic presidential candidate and the current Secretary of State. Daughter Chelsea — captured in that iconic, post-Monica photo on the White House lawn as the filial buffer between philandering father and betrayed mother — also enjoys a pretty terrific life. Now 32, she is married to longtime beau Marc Mezvinsky and working on a PhD in public health policy, with an NBC News gig on the side. She may yet run for office.
Even Tripp, Lewinsky’s much-maligned archenemy, has a son, a husband and a successful business, The Christmas Sleigh shop in tony Middleburg, in the heart of Virginia horse country.
And Monica? To her credit, she does not seem to have spent the entire intervening decade knitting her grief away in a darkened room, despite being forced in an immunity deal to confess the most intimate details of her time with Clinton, behind closed doors to a federal grand jury and publicly, via video, during the Capitol Hill impeachment.
In the aftermath of a life derailed, Lewinsky tried to launch a TV career, with her stint on the Fox reality dating show, “Mr. Personality,” not lasting very long. Neither did her job touting the Jenny Craig diet, a natural fit given her own yo-yo weight loss history.
She did speak out during the 2004 release of Clinton’s memoir, “My Life,” which brought the author an eye-popping $15 million advance and massive publicity. On “60 Minutes,” he chalked up his liaison with Lewinsky as raw “because-I-could” opportunism.
Amid the pain of being thrown under bus yet again, she hopped across the pond in 2005 to earn a master’s in social psychology from the prestigious London School of Economics. Her thesis, clearly based on the literary maxim “write what you know,” was titled, “In Search of the Impartial Juror: An Exploration of the Third Person Effect in Pre-Trial Publicity.”
It is unlikely this is the opus being pitched to publishers. But then again ...
Annie Groer is a former Washington Post and PoliticsDaily.com writer whose work has also appeared in Town & Country, More and the New York Times. She is at work on a memoir.