Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Review: And They Called It Camelot: A Novel of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis by Stephanie Marie Thornton

Title: And They Called It Camelot: A Novel of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis
Author: Stephanie Marie Thornton
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: March 10, 2020

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Few of us can claim to be the authors of our fate. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy knows no other choice. With the eyes of the world watching, Jackie uses her effortless charm and keen intelligence to carve a place for herself among the men of history and weave a fairy tale for the American people, embodying a senator’s wife, a devoted mother, a First Lady—a queen in her own right.

But all reigns must come to an end. Once JFK travels to Dallas and the clock ticks down those thousand days of magic in Camelot, Jackie is forced to pick up the ruined fragments of her life and forge herself into a new identity that is all her own, that of an American legend.

My Two Cents:

"And They Called It Camelot" is a fictionalized account of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis and covers about 25 years in her life: from the early 1950s until the late 1970s. In that time, she goes from being a young woman courting one of the most eligible bachelors in the world to a twice-widowed woman who is carving out a life for herself in the best way she knows how. This is a woman that the world's spotlight always seemed to find, whether she wanted it to or not. Where many would have withered, she grew and stood tall and became a role model for so many, myself included.

When I heard that Thornton's latest book would take on Jackie O., I was terribly excited. I am so fascinated by Jackie and knew that she would be in really good hands with Thornton, who has created such wonderful stories about some truly phenomenal women. Turns out my excitement was very much warranted! I loved this fictionalized account of Jackie, a woman who had to reinvent herself so many times throughout the tumultuous period that this book covered and always came out looking like the very epitome of grace and strength!

The book opens with Jackie meeting Jack for the first time. It seems like they have an instant connection. Where other men seem intimidated by Jackie's sophistication and education, Jack seems intrigued. I love how Thornton was able to capture the sparks that flew between them from the very beginning. We also get to see just how complicated things were between them. Although it was clear that they loved each other, we see that Jack had a roving eye and always seems to have his eyes on another woman. I loved seeing how they were pulled apart and put back together again over and over again throughout the book.

The book covers all of the highlights of the Kennedy presidency, which seemed to breathe new life into the entire United States. I loved reading about the renovation and massive redecorating of the White House. Jackie definitely made it America's house and gave it a sense of grandeur deserving of its history. We see her triumph in France and charming De Gaulle. We get to see her in India receiving a veritable menagerie of animals and being awed by the Taj Mahal. The book flashes back several times to that fateful day in November that marred the entire country.

I feel like I knew less about her life after the death of Jack. We see her eventually marry Aristotle Onassis, Greek shipping magnate, just four years after the death of her first husband. This really seems to be the first time that Jackie finds herself on the wrong side of the press and it was so interesting to see how she grappled with that after being their darling for so long.

I really thought that Thornton did such an amazing job of giving Jackie a truly authentic voice. I felt as if I were talking to a friend who is ready to spill all of her secrets. This was a great book and a wonderful way to get a better understanding of a truly fascinating woman!


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