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The Secret Memoirs of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: A Novel Paperback – December 26, 2006

3.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Affairs of state form a vague backdrop to Francisco's sordid imaginings of Jackie O's masochistic relationships with the men in her life. As a child, she idolized her philandering father, "Black Jack" Bouvier, "a tidal wave of sexuality," as much as she disliked her mother, Janet, whose highest ambition for herself and her daughters was marriage to a wealthy man. Though named "Debutante of the Year 1947," Jackie yearned to become her own person, independent of any man—that is, until she met Sen. John Fitzgerald Kennedy. From the start, her love for him is tempered with misgiving, and a sexually bleak wedding night ("disappointment settles over me like a hunter's net") launches a marriage marked by "constant humiliation" and depression. Francisco dishes up lots of graphic sex—both marital and extramarital (on JFK's part). As his occasional lover and main "political asset," Jacqueline ricochets from one heartbreak to another: infidelity, miscarriage, two stillbirths and, finally, widowhood. Upon JFK's death, she fends off sexual overtures from Bobby before she marries Aristotle Onassis, an "ugly old toad" who makes her feel safe until he turns abusive. Concluding just before Jackie's death, the novel's fictionalized peek behind Camelot will satisfy only prurient interests. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Wow, Ruth Francisco is a wonderful writer. Her talent is enormous. She has both the eye and heart of a poet and each of her scenes is like a perfect painting. Her re-creation of biographical characters and historical places and events is amazing. I can't remember when I first read a writer of such immense ability. I think she's probably a major literary figure in the making.” ―James Lee Burke, author of Crusader's Cross

“A piercingly intimate study...” ―The Daily News

“Intriguing. Imaginative.” ―Orange Coast magazine

“… a wonderful work of research and imagination. With this book Ruth Francisco underlines the power of fiction when it comes to telling the truth about who we are.” ―Michael Connelly, bestselling author of Lincoln Lawyer

“A convincing voice for America's most glamorous first lady.... Francisco's prose is like a dream--the sort of dream that throbs and twists underneath the consciousness of everyday life. This is a work of fiction, but in its frayed ends and emotional rawness, it reads as true.... This is a book most anyone can admire and--more crucially--slip into and inhabit.” ―Edge magazine

“[Francisco's] goal was to portray a three dimensional woman. She succeeds brilliantly.... Ruth Francisco...has brought Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to life on the pages of The Secret Memoirs... Francisco's prose is outstanding.... A real winner.” ―mostlyfiction.com

“...one of the most audacious novels of the year....The author has immersed herself in the known facts and added her own imagination to create a book that is going to please a lot of people...” ―bookview.com

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (December 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312363567
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312363567
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #485,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I tend to write novels that are a little controversial. I don't intend to, but a question grabs hold of my mind--Do we have a right to say no to medical technology? What would it be like to be Jackie Kennedy? Where is Islamic extremism taking us?--and it won't let go. I have to explore it, I have to write about it.

Since my interests are varied, my books are varied, perhaps too much so. But whatever the theme, I always explore identity, trying to reconcile the physical and spiritual worlds. My characters respond sensually to the world as I do, they question and doubt. It would be easier to be a different kind of writer maybe. I hope you get something out of my little efforts.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Princess bride, queen, mother, widow - in this fictionalized memoir of Jackie O's life, Ruth Francisco does for Jackie what Joyce Carol Oates did for Marilyn - that is, capture the complex, passionate, intelligent woman behind the various archetypes she inhabited so fully throughout the stages of her life. Francisco delves into the not-so-glorious aspects of the life of an extremely private public figure, whom everyone "owned" and who no one really knew. I believed this was a real memoir from page 1. Loved this book, as I did Ruth Francisco's previous novels - I think she is a major literary talent in the making. Looking forward to her next book.
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Format: Hardcover
In the author's note at the end of "The Secret Memoirs of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: A Novel," Ruth Francisco states up front that this is definitely a work of fiction. Although most events which take place within these pages have a basis in historical fact, they have been "filtered through Ms. Francisco's imagination." She tells her readers she "approached Jackie's fictional persona as an actor approaches a new role...by writing in her character's voice and imagining her thoughts and feelings." Obviously, her goal was to portray a three dimensional woman. She succeeds brilliantly!

Now, I am a confessed Jackie groupie - but a respectful one. Although I used to see her from time to time on the streets of NYC, I would never have approached her, especially knowing how important privacy was to this most private of women. I have admired Mrs. Kennedy since I was in 8th grade and so hoped that Senator John F. Kennedy and his Jackie would win the 1960 presidential election and become our first royal family. Yes, I was very young when Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy became First Lady of the United States...but I vividly remember watching her husband deliver his inspiring inaugural address on TV and later, that same evening, watching the news as photographers followed this glamorous young couple to document their victory for posterity as they made the rounds of Washington D.C.'s celebratory balls. This was a first - American royalty. And Jackie was a glorious young queen. She was just 31 years-old. I was a starry-eyed kid.

In the intervening years, with all the tragedy that has befallen the Kennedy family, I mourned with them, truly mourned. I have read various bios of Jackie and Jack, of RFK, and Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., the patriarch - some scholarly, some lurid.
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Format: Hardcover
This book takes us behind the widow's black veil, behind the fashionable large sunglasses into the mind and heart of an American Icon. Jackie is no longer a distant figure. Ruth Francisco presents Jackie as a woman with real feelings: passion, grief, alienation, success and fear. We, the readers are voyeurs, in the life of a woman so familiar yet so mysterious. A must read for fans of Jackie, historical fiction, love and romance or woman's studies.

With each Chapter we can conjure up in our minds the pictures of that particular time in Jackie's life that was also a part of American history from her early days as a schoolgirl to her final walk with Maurice in Central Park we get inside Jackie's mind and heart with a depth that will give you new appreciation for the suject and the author. Don't miss this one.
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Format: Hardcover
Ruth Francisco is a beautiful writer. In this novel she unveils for us the shy, brilliant, funny, and extremely courageous woman who was Jackie Onassis. From childhood on, the novel gives us a first hand account of a very difficult and poignant life. It is the first time I have felt the woman behind the icon, the flesh behind the stereotype. I loved with her, cried with her, and understood why she made her choices. Although I knew it was an imagined diary, I believe Ruth Francisco captured much of Jackie's soul and humanity. I was riveted from Page 1.
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Format: Paperback
From the very first pages of this "fictionalized memoir," I was captivated. First of all, I have been a big Kennedy fan for years and watched the beautiful couple inaugurated in early 1961, and then, like a series of photos in an album, I saw portraits of the first family, with the adorable children; Jackie's restoration of the White House, depicted on TV; and, of course, the tragic events in Dallas, with the memorable images of the bloodied pink suit.

Even later, when scandalous allegations came to light--infidelities, mobster connections, and more--I still felt a special affinity for this family. They were, after all, human and subject to all the flaws and foibles of real people. Our iconic views were very unrealistic, and even today, I see this tendency to vilify political figures when they act as real people.

Told in the first person narrative voice of "Jackie," the author takes us through the early days of "Jacks," with a very realistic portrayal of her relationship with her father; her frustrations at the whole "debutante scene," and her desires for a life in Paris, with artistic opportunities; her rebellion against the pressure to marry well (rich, social register).

The early years of her relationship with Jack Kennedy explored her feelings about him in the beginning, and how she finally succumbed to his charms, while knowing his flaws, even then.

The Secret Memoirs of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: A Novel is divided into sections, beginning with Jackie's childhood and adolescence; then her years with Jack, followed by her years as the Widow.
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