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JACKIE BY JOSIE: A Novel Hardcover – February 17, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Summer is shaping up poorly for Josie Trask. Her tippling mother is besotted with an ex-con who seems to be draining her bank account to cook gourmet meals. Her rather juvenile husband Peter is teaching in California with her sometime rival Monica. Meantime, Josie has derailed her scholarly dissertation to stay near Boston and make money digging up dirt on Jackie Onasis for a trashy celebrity biographer. Between memos on John F. Kennedy's co-ed pool parties and the odd skin condition of Jackie's father, she tries to keep tabs on Peter, reconcile her past, and learn what made Jackie--and, incidentally, Josie--tick. This is a light, entertaining first novel anchored by some mind-boggling quotes from Jackie.

From Publishers Weekly

Part academic sendup, part heartwarming family story, Preston's debut novel is the story of Josie Trask, a 28-year-old Brown University graduate student who can't seem to finish her Ph.D. thesis on an obscure American poet. While her husband, Peter, is hard at work on his dissertation on the popular culture of 1966, the year of his birth, Josie is more caught up in raising their three-year-old son, Henry. So, when a celebrity biographer offers to pay her big bucks to spend a few months researching the life of the recently departed Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis for a quickie unauthorized tell-all biography, Josie jumps at the chance. Before she can say "Hyannis Port," she and Henry have moved in to her mother's house near the Kennedy Library, and Peter has departed for summer school in California, accompanied by the flirtatious Monica, a fellow grad student. The narrative weaves together Josie's jealous fears of losing Peter and her concerns about her unhappy childhood and her mother's drinking with a healthy dose of (often outrageously apocryphal) Jackie lore. Competently written, the book neatly skewers academia and energetically forces every possible connection between Josie's life and Jackie's history. As she becomes more familiar with the woman inside the myth of Camelot, Josie realizes that Jackie isn't the only one skilled at making up stories about her life. Unfortunately, the various plot lines end up so neatly resolved that one longs for the untidy?but far more interesting?magic of Jackie's real-life odyssey.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (February 17, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684830779
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684830773
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,009,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

As a girl growing up in Lake Forest, Illinois, Caroline Preston used to pore through her grandmother's and mother's scrapbooks and started collecting antique scrapbooks when she was in high school. She majored in American Studies at Dartmouth College, and received a master's in American Civilization from Brown University. Inspired by her interest in manuscripts and ephemera, she worked as an archivist at the Rhode Island Historical Society, the Peabody/Essex Museum and Harvard's Houghton Library.

Preston is the author of three previous novels. "Jackie by Josie," a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, was drawn from her (brief) researching stint for a Jackie O. biography. "Gatsby's Girl" chronicles F. Scott Fitzgerald's first girlfriend who was the model for Daisy Buchanan. In "The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt," she has drawn from her own collection of vintage ephemera to create a novel in the unique form of a scrapbook.

Preston has been awarded a Massachusetts Artist Foundation Fellowship and has had residencies at Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Ragdale, where she is a Distinguished Artist. She lives with her husband, the writer Christopher Tilghman, in Charlottesville, Virginia and has three mostly grown-up sons.

Customer Reviews

It was so good I am counting the days 'till her next book is released.
supersam7@hotmail.com
The book is so touching and kept me totally involved, anxious to see how things would turn out for this intelligent compelling person.
N. Gargano
I read this book when it first came out, I'm guessing that must have been about ten years ago.
Elizabeth Lyon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Dianna Setterfield on September 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
Jackie By Josie is an excellent and impressive debut novel by Caroline Preston. For me, a person who does not liked to be bogged down with heavy writing, difficult words, and poetically graphic sentences, I found the author's quick and clear style very refreshing. And while the story itself took awhile to get my attention at first, I quickly become enmeshed in the story of Josie and her summer of dirt-digging, marriage-reflecting, and mother-sitting.
For Josie Trask, discouraged and restless over her unfinished dissertation, a chance to dig up the dish on Jackie Kennedy for Fiona Jones, celebrity biographer, is a welcomed distraction. Josie and her 3-year-old son, Henry, move in with her mother for the summer while Peter, Josie's husband, drives across country with fellow classmate, Monica, to their respective teaching jobs in California. Sounds cut-and-dried, but it seems moving in with Mom isn't all it's cracked up to be. And having your husband riding shotgun with another woman does nothing for Josie's state of mind. Full of all sorts of awakenings about herself and those around her, Josie's summer brings her more than she's ever bargained for.
Jackie By Josie is a novel that delves into the intricate weavings of marriage, family, trust and happiness. Spiced with true quotes and events from the life of Jackie Kennedy, Caroline Preston has expertly blended the two story lines together and created a unique and life-enhancing parallel between Jackie and Josie. Great first effort. I will be reading this author again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Ellen Connally on July 31, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As most of the reviewers point out, this is a clever and well thought out novel about a woman in a sort of early mid life crises dealing with an aging mother with a drinking problem and a new boy friend, a dysfunctional childhood and her work as a background researcher for a forth coming expose on Jackie Kennedy. To boot there is the subplot about Josie's own marriage to Peter which appears to be on the rocks for much of the novel thanks to their so called friend Monica.

Since I don't believe that anyone has a so called perfect marriage, I thought that the depictions of married life - including that of JFK and JBKO - were accurate. Most people's marriages are not perfect but they put up with things and endure problems for the sake of the marriage.

The parallels between the characters was well thought out. The suspense about the characters and their background does much to enhance the novel.

And to boot, if you are a Kennedy buff, there is good information.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Angela Richardson on July 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
I was expecting a light Bridget Jones-ish read when I picked this up in the bargain bin. I was pleasantly surprised.
The story follows Josie Trask, wife of Peter, mother of 3-year-old Henry, American Lit grad student having trouble getting her thesis finished, spending the summer living with her mother, apart from her husband, doing research for a schlocky bio on Jackie O. Josie is a fair bit more intellectual than most 30-or-so female central characters have been lately. She goes through a bit of a crisis in her marriage and winds up with a better understanding of herself, her mother and her relationship with her husband. As the story unfolds, we are treated to tidbits from Josie's Jackie research, that are both interesting on their own, and in the way they relate to what Josie's going through.
Preston's writing is strong, the characters are authentic and the story is a pleasure all the way through. It's also peaked my interest in reading more about Jackie and the Kennedys.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sandra Mitchell on September 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
Jackie By Josie is a fun read & quite a clever concept. Not only do you get a good story about Josie, the main character, but you also get a lot of fun tidbits and rumors/trivia about Jackie Kennedy. In this novel, we meet Josie, who spends the summer living with her mom, and Josie's 3 year old boy Henry on the east coast. Peter, Josie's husband, is in California and Josie plans to join him in the fall. For the summer Josie has agreed to be a research assistant, helping Fiona Jones uncover anything she can get her hands on about Jackie Kennedy. This story explores the complexities of relationships-how do you know if you can trust your spouse, being happy with who you are, and accepting that famous or not, we all have our own obstacles and discoveries to make in life. Whether you are married to JFK or Peter, no marriage is perfect and you have to put in a lot of work and effort. Spend the summer with Josie-it's worth it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By N. Gargano VINE VOICE on September 10, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very clever and fun book, one that can be enjoyed by anyone wanting to read about a smart, somewhat lost, young woman, who ends up finding herself by discovering things about Jackie Kennedy. The book is so touching and kept me totally involved, anxious to see how things would turn out for this intelligent compelling person. And for you people out there who don't think you would enjoy a book with a parallel story about Jackie Kennedy, pick this book up anyway. The author has used the parallel in such a clever way, it is worth the try. I am looking forward to more books by this wonderful author.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
I thought there was something wrong with me. I heard great things about this, and I was overwhelemed by the snippets of reviews in the book. But the writing really isn't good enough...and I just wasn't that interested in Josie's history nor that of her extremely boring, selfish, annoying husband. Not to mention her boring mother. Sorry, I've just had a spate of reading people like Ian McEwan who can really write...a much better command of the language. I see Elinor Lipman is her mentor...another one that's good but not as great as they say. Interesting that one reviewer says that if you like Le Divorce you'll like this...hmmm....couldn't finish that one either.
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