This review first appeared on Future Female Leaders
Here at FFL, we believe that empowered women empower women and Kelley Paul’s book True and Constant Friends: Love and Inspiration From Our Grandmothers, Mothers, and Friends embodies that to a tee. Kelley Paul is the wife of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. She and Rand have been married for twenty-four years and they have three sons together. Aside from being a senator’s wife, which definitely can’t be easy, Kelley was also a communications manager and writer. Now, in her first book, she shows the world the importance of female friendship, female empowerment, and puts into print the stories and feelings we’ve all experienced through our lives. The book came out during Rand’s 2016 presidential campaign but even if that didn’t work out for him, there’s so much we can take away from this book.
This book is short, less than 150 pages, but it has a purpose that serves it well.As Kelley explains, she has six close friends who she has known since college, a true feat many of us aspire towards. As a celebration of their decades of friendship and in a moment of reflection, she asked each of these six friends to contribute a story about a woman who has positively impacted their life or been an inspiration to them. While this isn’t an expressly political book, it does deal with some political themes. Kelley, in her story, talks about her grandmother who was an Irish immigrant and a maid in NYC. She talks about how her grandmother taught her how to hold herself high even when she was feeling down and led such a fascinating life that Kelley didn’t even realize for many years that her grandmother was actually a maid and not a socialite herself. The women then take turns talking about their mothers, their grandmothers, and in one case their nanny, as women who had a huge impact on their life. These are touching stories, but not the Chicken Soup for the Soul stories that are designed to rip your heart out. These stories will not only make you laugh and smile. They will make you hold your own favorite women a little bit closer and think about what story you’ll tell about them one day.
Woven into these stories of strong women is a tale of enduring friendship that has survived the test of time, the stress of distance, and the perils of politics. We live in a world where things can seem so flippant. Women appear to be at each other’s throats over the simplest things, but the women that Kelley has known and loved since college provide insight into how to avoid those traps. Kelley talks openly about how her friends have helped her survive her foray into politics and beyond. Her friends even give advice on maintaining and cultivating friendships as you start your own families.
The forward to True and Constant Friends was written by none other than Senator Rand Paul himself. In that forward, he not only praises his wife’s writing style and her storytelling ability, but talks about a woman who has greatly impacted his own life: his great-grandmother Millicent. Rand recounts how his family truly got to know her and admire her through the hundreds of letters that she wrote to her husband Herman while he was away. He has fond memories of playing Old Maid with his card-fearing grandmother and even taking her to her first ever movie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Paul goes on to reflect on her role as a suffragette and her fight in the temperance movement. She helped register over a hundred people to vote at her assisted living facility and lived to be over a hundred years old. It’s clear she lived an exciting and interesting life. It’s fun to have a little insight on the topic from Kelley’s husband, the man most of us know and admire for his work in the Senate.
This is the kind of book that forces you to take a look around you, wherever you are in your life, and realize there are great people, heroes, all around you.Your hero doesn’t have to be a Supreme Court Justice or a celebrity. It can be the woman who raised you or the women who are always there to build you up.
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