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Jackie by Josie

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Josie Trask is a thirtyish graduate student whose husband is the pet of their American Civilization Department and whose three-year-old son is the apple of her eye. But Josie has two pressing problems. One, she's utterly bored by her unfinished dissertation on an obscure nineteenth-century poetess. Two, her husband Peter, whose career is zooming ahead, seems to be spending an awful lot of time with their fellow student and "friend" Monica. So when a celebrity biographer (think Kitty Kelley meets Nigel Hamilton) ...
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Overview

Josie Trask is a thirtyish graduate student whose husband is the pet of their American Civilization Department and whose three-year-old son is the apple of her eye. But Josie has two pressing problems. One, she's utterly bored by her unfinished dissertation on an obscure nineteenth-century poetess. Two, her husband Peter, whose career is zooming ahead, seems to be spending an awful lot of time with their fellow student and "friend" Monica. So when a celebrity biographer (think Kitty Kelley meets Nigel Hamilton) calls with an offer - namely, Mrs. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis has just died and the publisher needs a researcher fast - Josie decides to give it a whirl. What follows are Josie's hilarious adventures as she deals with the age-old dilemmas of love, marriage, and parenthood, and as she discovers some unexpected parallels between her life and that of our most enduring icon - none other than the queen of Camelot.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\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.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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. (Feb.)
Library Journal
You can judge this book, a first novel, by its cover. It features a winsome sketch of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis that evokes a multitude of memories. Similarly, this laugh-out-loud novel gives a surprisingly complete account of the love lives of several women, including Jackie and main character Josie, who sets aside her dissertation on an obscure 19th-century poet when she is unexpectedly given the opportunity to write Jackie's biography. Conflicts arise when Josie begins to suspect that her husband is having an affair and that her mother is an alcoholic, involved with a convicted arsonist. The more Josie learns about her mother and Jackie, the more she understands herself. Heartily recommended.-Dorothy S. Golden, Georgia Southern Univ., Statesboro
Judith Viorst
The complicated love relationships of four very different women movingly and touchingly converge, an amiable first novel spiced with stories from the Jackie archive. -- The New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
A female grad student's coming-of-age tale, and a work so charming, wise, and self-assured it's hard to believe it's a first novel—by a Massachusetts author discovered at a Bennington writers' workshop.

Josie Trask has been a student in English lit long enough to have married, given birth to a son, and mothered him for three years—all without yet having finished her dissertation. Perhaps it's her dissertation's subject that fails to motivate: a virtually unknown 19th-century woman poet from Josie's hometown of Chester, Mass., whose work might not be worth resurrecting. Then again, the irritating success of Josie's husband, Peter, might be the real problem. Having never experienced writer's block, Peter has sailed through his teaching gigs on the popular culture of the '60s, has been awarded a book contract for his own dissertation (From the Valley of the Dolls to the Ballad of the Green Berets), and is now planning to spend the summer in Berkeley drilling college students on the significance of '60s icons. Josie expects to accompany him until she's offered a summer job as researcher for glitzy, lowbrow British biographer Fiona Jones, who's doing a quick posthumous bio of Jackie Onassis. Unable to resist the $10,000, Josie takes the job and devotes herself to investigating JFK's love affairs and Jackie's terrible sorrows—only half-consciously suspecting that Peter may be doing his own philandering in Berkeley all the while. As the weeks pass, Jackie's triumphs and travails as a wife and mother begin eerily to resemble Josie's own—but happily, by the end of the summer, both feisty heroines manage to triumph in the face of adversity by winning the respect of their husbands, forging forward in their careers, and lavishing affection on their lucky kids.

As first novels go, this one's a plum.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684830773
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 2/17/1997
  • Pages: 314
  • Product dimensions: 5.94 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 1.22 (d)

Meet the Author

Caroline Preston
Caroline Preston

CAROLINE PRESTON is a graduate of Dartmouth College and earned her master's degree in American civilization at Brown University. She has worked as a manuscript librarian, both at the Houghton Library at Harvard and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. She is the author of two previous novels, Jackie by Josie (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year) and Lucy Crocker 2.0. She is married to the writer Christopher Tilghman, and they live with their three sons in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2007

    a treasure

    This was a great read! It was about ten years ago that I read this book, but I have periodically checked the library for new books by this author because this book was so engaging (finally, Gatsby's Girl).

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