“Memories of war lurked everywhere, as I discovered, but no one would admit it.”Ann Mah, Jacqueline in Paris
Title: Jacqueline in Paris
Author: Ann Mah
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
Published: August 27th, 2022
My Rating: ★★★★¾
Read: 11/26/2022 – 11/29/2022
I’m quite fond of Jacqueline Kennedy, though I admit her time as a Kennedy is the majority of what I know about her. Before becoming the First Lady of the United States and Jackie O, she was Jacqueline Bouvier. Jacqueline in Paris gives us a glimpse of Jacquline before she became the woman we know and admire today.
Starting in 1949, we follow Jacqueline during her year abroad in Paris. Happy to escape her mother’s expectations for the future and enjoy the freedom of being away from constant parental scrutiny, she seeks culture and solitude. She finds this and more, taking in the realities of post-war Europe, a different outlook on politics and intermingling with people she’d be forbidden to associate with back home, and the lasting effects war has had on those who had to suffer the greatest cruelties.
Though much of this story is speculation, it’s clear there that a great deal of research went into this, especially where the Renty family was involved. I found this subplot to be the most fascinating and was the source of a lot of emotion in the story. It was also interesting getting to see a bit of romance before JFK entered the picture.
Likes & Dislikes:
What I liked:
- The Parisian atmosphere, especially the post-war element.
- The introspection of Jacqueline’s character. As an introvert myself, I found her very relatable.
- The balance of the romance. It didn’t overpower the rest of the story while remaining a crucial plot point.
- Lovely writing!
- The epilogue.
What I didn’t like:
- Trying to make Jacqueline sound like a communist was strange. It was inconsistent, too, so it read like she was flip-flopping around politics without a clue of what she actually believed. It would have been more believable and even interesting if this weren’t based on someone real who was a prominent figure on the American side of the Cold War.
- With quite a few different storylines going on, it was difficult to keep track of who was who.
Jacqueline was such a lovely person and made for a delightful character in a novel. This was a book where I felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend when I reached the last page.