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Mar 2, 2020

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

And They Called It Camelot: A Novel of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis by Stephanie Marie Thornton
Berkley Publishing Group, March 10 2020
Hist-Fic, 480 pages
Review copy via Netgalley 
An intimate portrait of the life of Jackie O…
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.

This was my first book regarding the famous Kennedy family and the woman who married into the political Kennedy clan. Jackie died in New York the same month I left New York and I grew up hearing about her and her children so I had an idea of how uptight she was. And that definitely shone through in this novel as we get a good summary of what her life was like during the brief courtship and ten years of a rocky marriage (but with tons of bling!) to the 35th President of the United States. 

The summary is that Jackie had children and lost children and she really despised Texas according to this depiction. She spoke languages fluently and was a public curiosity that helped the Kennedys seem a little more dainty and less masculine political machines. Whether he or she was faithful or not is left open to our imagination. 

I forced myself to finish this to be honest. It was a very dry narrative but is that the author's fault or Jackie's fault? I could not really relate to Jackie as a woman as she was able to snap her fingers and get whatever her heart desired. Plus the multiple times Dallas and Texas was ridiculed was a complete turn off. 

Where this story is heartfelt is when Jackie experienced loss and tragedy just like an ordinary person would. An iconic woman she was able to survive everything that happened to her with grace and poise while in the public eye but behind the scenes she was just keeping her head above water, from the way the author depicts her. 

There is not a lot of Kennedy historical fiction out there so I do recommend this well researched novel for anyone interested in the nuances of the era. I did get a little lost with the lengthy author's note and was disappointed in how many times the author said that she shifted events or scenes that I finally just stopped trying to wrap my head around what was true or not, and didn't finish that author's note. The aspects of biographical fiction versus historical fact is a conundrum of historical fiction and a subject of lengthy debate. 

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