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The Pink Suit: A Novel Hardcover – April 29, 2014

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (April 29, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316235652
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316235655
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #332,557 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Irish immigrant and seamstress Kate’s connection to First Lady Jackie Kennedy is one fraught with the nuances of public image, crushing sadness, and unexpectedly scattered life trajectories in Kelby’s literary reworking of the true story behind the famous pink suit worn on the day in 1963 when a nation’s dream died. Kate’s job working for couturier to the stars Chez Ninon is simple yet excruciating. She must imagine “every formal dinner and every debutante ball as if she lived them herself.” While she labors unseen for the thousands of hours she spends ensuring every tiny stitch is correct, Kate’s seemingly mundane life entwines with the lives of the rich and famous whose clothing she helps create, which leads to emotions and events she never could have foreseen. Woven thematically throughout is the concept that “the story of the pink suit was no longer about beauty or forgiveness. It was about strength.” Subtly written despite the forceful historical significance at the story’s heart, this is a graceful telling of the behind-the-scenes lives and realities involved in every monumental event of history. --Julie Trevelyan


Entertainment Weekly's #1 Mother's Day pick for 2014

An Oprah Magazine Top Ten Book of May 2014

"Luxuriate in shades of pink, in descriptions of haute couture so exquisite and precise that you can feel elegant just by reading the words. Nicole Mary Kelby has stitched together from scraps of facts a compelling novel, a lovable heroine, and a living neighborhood in its last few moments of innocence. From its startling opening to its poignant ending, The Pink Suit shows us that behind events of global significance, there are unknown individuals worthy of our interest." --Susan Vreeland, author of Clara and Mr. Tiffany and Luncheon of the Boating Party

"Beautifully written and engrossing, The Pink Suit gives us an extraordinary alternative reality, transforming JFK and Jackie's romance into the unforgettable love story of a seamstress and a butcher. Kate and Patrick are wonderful creations, and the evocation of the early 1960s is moving and convincing. Kelby spins a compelling tale of one of the most iconic garments ever sewn, and makes it entirely her own."
-Claire Kendal, author of The Book of You

"The Pink Suit is a rare work, fascinating and beautifully crafted. Nicole Mary Kelby's sensuous prose is as opulent as the couture she describes." - Jennifer Chiaverini, author of the New York Times bestseller Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker

"The Pink Suit is a wonderfully absorbing and richly textured novel, strikingly rendered with a keen eye for the details of art and fashion and an equally acute ear for the workings of the human heart. Kelby captures perfectly the yearnings, disappointment and aspirations of an unforgettable heroine against the backdrop of a national tragedy."

-Anne D. LeClaire, author of Entering Normal and The Lavender Hour

"One of history's most tragic and iconic outfits has long had its own strange and compelling story. Now, at last, that story has been told-and beautifully."

-Jeffrey Kluger, author of Lost Moon: The Perilous Journey of Apollo 13

"The Pink Suit, built around the Garment District back story of that now-famous outfit, is sure to catapult the writer's career straight from pret-a-porter to haute couture... Kate gets an insider's glimpse into the rarefied world of high-society matrons and wealthy socialites so often cloaked in mystery to outsiders. So do we... The Minnesota author herself seems poised to reach rosy new career heights with the publication of this carefully tailored novel."—The Minneapolis Star Tribune

"While the novel is filled with politics, history and lots of insider views of designer fashion, Kate remains grounded... It's a look at an ordinary woman and how she played a small role in an extraordinary time."—The Fort Worth Star Telegram

"Novelist Nicole Mary Kelby picks up those threads of memory and weaves them into The Pink Suit, a subtly heartbreaking, completely believable tale inspired by the Irish immigrant dressmaker who made Jacqueline Kennedy's Chanel knockoff."—Dallas Morning News

"A novel that's just about the pink suit worn by Jackie Kennedy that day in Dallas? Yes-and it's terrific."—Entertainment Weekly

"Getting a behind the scenes glimpse inside the fashion industry of the 1960s was a treat. But the real charm of the book is the protagonist herself, portrayed as a strong, independent and courageous woman who defies conventional expectations."—Historical Novel Society

"Inspired by the true story behind Jackie Kennedy's iconic outfit, Kelby has stitched a compelling tale of politics, fashion and history."—People

"A luxurious narrative... This is a novel that book clubs will relish."—Bookpage

"A delectable romantic novel with brains and a heart."—Maggie Gee, author of The White Family

"Excels brilliantly."—Publisher's Weekly

"Here reality and fiction intertwine, held together by the power of a single, fascinating narrative thread."—Harper's Bazaar (UK)

Customer Reviews

I am a dedicated fan of the Kennedy family, especially Jackie.
Joan M. Bonczek
Found the main character rather annoying and the dialogue between characters somewhat trite.
Joanne Kalos
There were so many facts woven in to the novel it made the entire story a piece of history.
Hannah Brown

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By H. H. Momsen on May 15, 2014
Format: Hardcover
It's a simple tale with complex undertones and I loved it.
I am familiar with sewing and fabric terms, so I approached that part of the book comfortably. But, even if the reader does not stitch, the processes are clearly stated and can be appreciated and understood and the skills of the workers and the fashion houses admired. It is a gift to be able to make something universally understandable while still honoring the intelligence of the reader.
I am especially lured to read books that combine fact and fiction...a magical and brave process that makes history come alive by connecting the dots and creating a back story. The author does this with grace. I disagree with those who think that the personal story of the seamstress, Kate, is not developed sufficiently. I knew just enough about her to share the ups and downs of her life while the larger story of the suit remained the focus.
If you want to read a romance paperback, do that. This is a romance of a different kind..the love of an expert artisan for her work, the love of a more-than-average husband and wife and, the love of a country for an era that was lost before we realized it could possibly be in danger.
The tragedy of the assassination of John Kennedy brought a country to its knees. I still remember a political cartoon with Uncle Sam on his knees, hands folded in prayer, hat less (unusual in depictions of him) with a single tear on his cheek as he searched the heavens for the answers that would never come. I still remember the "cloud of pink" that covered the President in his final moments.
I don't think you have to be old enough to remember to appreciate The Pink Suit. It reminds us all how we are connected to each other, and how the moments of history are tied to simple back stories that propel the greater tale.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By EJ on May 4, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I downloaded a copy of The Pink Suit after reading a very positive professional review of this book, even though it is outside my usual genre. In short, I can say that the book is enjoyable and interesting, though a bit uneven. With that, I promise a spoiler-free review.

The book is a blending of factual history with a novel. It follows the story of Kate, an Irish seamstress for a New York fashion house called Chez Ninon. The dress shop and its owners were real, as was Kate. The store was asked to produce the famous pink suit that Jackie Kennedy was wearing when JFK was shot that fateful day in Dallas. The suit itself has been in the news recently, lending a very timely feel to this novel. And it is undoubtedly one outfit that almost every American over a certain age can pull up from memory instantly.

The clear strength of this book lies in the historical aspects regarding Jackie Kennedy’s wardrobe. I am no fashionista, but one thing I did find fascinating was the degree to which everything from politics to room décor was considered when making clothing for her. It was also of interest to learn about how fashion houses knocked off other designers’ creations—with and without permission. Additionally, there was art within the writing itself. I was particularly struck by the description of the pink bouclé fabric from which the dress was made shedding and wafting over New York City and adhering itself to people randomly, just as the memory of the pink suit itself and the day it represents has adhered itself to the collective consciousness of Americans.

In my opinion, the story lost some steam when it came to the relationships in Kate’s life.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By writeoncindy on May 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I first spotted the cover of the new novel, THE PINK SUIT, my mind immediately flashed back to 1963 and that horrible November day in Dallas when our President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. With God’s strength and grace, our First Lady represented our country through those horrific hours dressed in her pink suit with his blood all over her for the world to see. That pink suit will forever be embedded in the memories of Americans and people around the world.
Novelist, Nicole Mary Kelby has written a story around this historical icon. THE PINK SUIT won’t fit everyone’s tastes and isn’t for history buffs, but for those willing to suspend some literary license and be entertained by her fresh writing style and storytelling, prepare to enjoy. I certainly did.
Kate is a young Irish immigrant who works in the backroom as a seamstress at Chez Ninon, a New York City boutique that caters to a posh clientele, including the First lady. She spends endless hours sewing clothes by hand for Society’s elite, including creating nearly the First Lady’s entire wardrobe from scratch. Ironically, she knows every tuck and pleat needed to create the magic of Camelot, but never comes in contact with her directly.
I love the American folklore of the Kennedy’s. I’m part Irish, Catholic and I come from the northeast. I grew up with my mother and her friends talking about Mrs. Kennedy and the clans’ every move. My mother was a seamstress and I grew up wearing simple A-line dresses she made with special attention given to the collars and always the accessories - gloves, hats and a purse.
Kelby uses an interesting technique readers will either enjoy or tire of quickly. We never meet the First Lady. She is referred to as “The Wife,” “the First Lady” and “Her Elegance.
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