This very evocative book by the late Mrs. Onassis's cousin is as much a nostalgic look at a vanished way of life as it is a memoir of Jacqueline Bouvier from her birth in 1929 until her marriage to Senator John F. Kennedy in September 1953. The author's access to family papers helped fill in the details of an enormously privileged yet often unhappy childhood, in which her parents' divorce left the young girl torn between the father she adored and an extremely controlling mother who was jealous of that relationship. Davis recounts gossip, but readers expecting nothing but dirt will be disappointed. This is instead a fond look at a beautiful and intelligent woman who was always something of an enigma, even to her own family; Davis does shed light on the events that helped make Jacqueline such a private person. This brief memoir includes beautiful photographs, some never before published. Recommended for libraries where there is an interest in Jacqueline Onassis and the Kennedys.Elizabeth Mellett, Brookline P.L., Mass.
Nothing more to learn about Jackie O.? How about that her mother was a screamer, hit her daughter, and abandoned Jackie and her sister to a nanny while she prowled the New York social scene in search of a husband to replace Jackie's beloved father.
Author Davis (Mafia Dynastry, 1993, etc.) was a first cousin on the Bouvier side to the late Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, but by his own admission, he was not an "intimate." What Davis has going for him is family papers rescued and preserved by his mother and many childhood summers shared with Jackie at Lasata, the East Hampton retreat of their Bouvier grandparents. Davis's thesis is that the elegant surroundings and lifestyle at Lasata gave a head start to Jackie's highly developed esthetic and that the escalating warfare between her mother, the former Janet Lee, and her father, "Black Jack" Bouvier, led to her "secretiveness." Caught in a tug-of-war between her parents for her affections, according to Davis, after her mother married the wealthy Hugh Auchincloss and her Grandfather Bouvier died leaving Lasata to be sold, Jackie began to pull away from her father. Eventually, on her wedding day, Bouvier was tragically abandoned, waiting in a Newport hotel room while Hugh Auchincloss gave his daughter away. Included are stories of Jackie as Deb of the Year, as Vassar student with football weekends at Yale and Princeton, and as inquiring photographer for the Washington Post. Here also is the text of Jackie's winning Vogue Prix de Paris entry, stories about how she charmed Joe Kennedy, and the fact that her number-one priority in a husband was that he be wealthy. Davis's reminiscences stop with her wedding. For ardent Jackie fans, plenty of photos, from babyhood to wedding day, some not seen before.
Although the broad outlines of Jacqueline Bouvier's childhood are familiar, Davis's memories add details that will help readers better understand this most celebrated, most mysterious woman.