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Janet and Jackie: The Story of a Mother and Her Daughter, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Paperback – November 19, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Although Jackie Kennedy Onassis's relationships with the men in her life her father and husbands in particular have been the subject of much biographical attention, Pottker asserts that these were actually of less significance in shaping Jackie's identity and legacy than was her relationship with her mother, Janet Lee Auchincloss. This, then, is meant to be a dual biography, in which Pottker (Dear Ann, Dear Abby: The Unauthorized Biography of Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren) assesses the daughter's life in relation to her mother's and traces the ways in which Janet's ideals and ambitions influenced both Jackie's life and the Kennedy White House. Claiming to have uncovered several new facts about Jackie and many about Janet, this is meticulously researched and ably narrated. But while Pottker is insistent that Janet's role in Jackie's life merits a book-length study (and certainly, her point that Janet was actively involved in her daughter's life for 60 years is well taken), this remains less a real assessment of that mother-daughter relationship than yet another retelling of the Jackie Kennedy Onassis story, with details of Janet's life thrown in. But Janet is clearly a fascinating subject in her own right and, portrayed here sympathetically but warts-and-all, seems more human and more compelling than her celebrated daughter. A ruthless social snob, for example, she was also capable of selfless and spontaneous acts of kindness; and while her obsession with money and prestige lurked behind much of the advice and social training she gave Jackie, she also appears to have been a very devoted mother. If this is a less than groundbreaking retelling of Jackie's story, it's still noteworthy for its rich and nuanced portrait of Janet. Photos not seen by PW. Agent, Pam Bernstein.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Though this biography covers an intensely intimate subject the relationship between Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and her mother, Janet it possesses a decidedly surface appeal. Pottker (Dear Ann, Dear Abby: The Unauthorized Biography of Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren) foregrounds issues of status, wealth, lineage, and style, offering plenty of information about "social Newport" and Georgetown society, the family's various estates, how they were decorated, and so on, but very little about the emotional dynamics between mother and daughter. For example, Pottker proudly cheers when Janet eagerly steps in to fill the social vacuum when Jackie Kennedy inexplicably withdrew from public events, but she gives little insight into how the two women really felt. Was Janet a gracious protector or a garish social climber? Was Jackie an independent spirit, prone to depression, or merely private? Pottker doesn't push for intellectual or psychological depth, and the book's gossipy tone and society-page anecdotes ultimately make for a flat and one-dimensional read. Not recommended. Amy Strong, East Boothbay, ME
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (November 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312302819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312302818
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #808,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jane B. Wypiszynski on October 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am an avid reader/collector of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis books, and I would recommend this book to someone who wants to better understand her. A great deal has been made about the relationship between Mrs. Onassis and her father, but not much was ever published about her mother. The author has accessed materials from the Auchincloss family, and has also talked with members of the family who can give insight into the complex woman Janet Auchincloss was. There are some extraneous details, but I learned a lot about the family dynamics, and how they affected some of Jackie's behaviors and tastes.
Janet Auchincloss has usually been portrayed as a social climbing, volatile, meddling woman with whom Jackie had little affection. This book makes Mrs. Auchincloss much more real, and clearly shows the impression she made on her eldest daughter.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mary Miller on April 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Reading this book makes me feel as if I were in a time capsule back into the era when Janet Lee Bouvier Auchincloss lived..this book is an excellent biographical sketch of who and what shaped our future First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy..the book has historical value into the era of the 20's and 30's...the author writes beautifully, with interesting phrases..pg 99 "One martini, two martinis, three martini's, floor" !! I enjoyed it very much!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Giuseppe V on October 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I don't think anyone else would "get it". But Jackie followers will like it. This book actually had little tidbits I hadn't heard before (didn't think it was possible!). Some new source must have blabbed. It certainly presents Janet in a kinder light - and Black Jack Bouvier is looked at more critically (zero IQ - really!!). Buy it, Jackie lovers - you'll get your moneys' worth.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Graves on April 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
I rather liked this book. Just a few things kept it from being 4 stars. I found this book a very level-headed look at Janet Norton Lee Bouvier Auchincloss. I have read so many biographies of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and heard very little good about Mrs. Auchincloss. Rarely is an ambitious woman treated fairly by press and history. This book was a no nonsense look at the real power behind JBKO. Imagine the dinner with DeGaulle without her command of French, as taught at table. Mrs. Auchincloss demanded that her children speak French only at table and required them to ask for things in French. This served Jacqueline very well in the years ahead. Mrs. Auchincloss like things just so, and so did her daughter.

The only problem I had with this book, and I hate to criticize the author, but it is a problem for me, is the fact that this book is generally favorable in tone to both mother and daughter. Then, for no reason, somewhere in a story, the author would take a potshot or some gossip that was unfavorable to the general tone of the book. It's not a fatal flaw that would prevent you from enjoying this book, and in truth, I probably fault Ms. Pottker's editor for not catching the incidents.

I recommend this book. After reading just about every book about Mrs. Auchincloss and her two famous elder daughters, I find this one to be the most even-handed in relation to Jacqueline's mother, and these little foibles will not detract noticibly from that story.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most bios of JBKO treat her relationship with her mother only superficially, concentrating instead on how she adored her charismatic father. This book shines the light on Janet, which is a welcome change. While I applaud the new approach, I'm afraid it's not entirely successful. It includes many Janet stories, and almost as much about Jackie, but disappointingly little about Janet AND Jackie. I also wish that Lee and her relationship with Janet and Jackie had been explored more. Still, this book is an entertaining and credible read. I especially appreciated the part where Janet confronts her Senatorial son-in-law regarding his behavior after Jackie loses a baby. Mrs. Auchincloss behaved just as my, or other good mother, would.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "fcaro1" on November 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
The life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis remains a favorite subject of tabloid journalists and biographers. Although the former first lady and her family have been scrutinized for decades, Jacqueline's mother, an extremely influential figure in her life, has been largely ignored. In the noteworthy but badly written Janet & Jackie, Jan Pottker analyzes their relationship and illuminates Janet Auchincloss's supportive presence in Jacqueline's life.
Pottker humanizes Janet, a woman usually portrayed by Jackie's biographers as a shadowy, mercurial, and abusive figure. Born into a generation of "well-mannered young ladies wearing pearls," the unconventional Janet Lee attended college and raced horses. At the age of 20, she married the dashing John "Black Jack" Bouvier. However, after the birth of their two daughters, Bouvier's alcoholism, gambling, and flagrant infidelity prompted Janet to divorce him. Janet's fabled volatility is depicted largely as a result of the extraordinary social pressures she faced as a 1930s divorcee. Desperate to secure the financial future of her young daughters, Janet married Hugh D. Auchincloss, one of America's wealthiest men.
Through Pottker's narrative, Janet emerges as a supportive figure in Jacqueline's turbulent life. It was Janet who rushed to Jackie's bedside after a stillbirth. Following the
assassination, it was Janet who placed the bloodstained pink suit in storage. After Jacqueline's marriage to Aristotle Onassis, it was Janet who publically supported the union, despite her private misgivings. While Jacqueline's marriages both lasted no more than a decade, Janet remained a constant, supportive presence in her life for sixty years.
Though informative, Janet & Jackie is marred by Pottker's appalling writing.
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