17 March 2020

Today's Read: And They Called It Camelot by Stephanie Marie Thornton

review of And They Called It Camelot by Stephanie Marie ThorntonAre you old enough to remember the Kennedy administration or to remember what you were doing when you learned President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated? I'm old enough, and I remember. Even if you weren't yet born in fall 1963, I'm sure you have an inkling about the Kennedy mystique and the aura surrounding Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. If you're still not sure, think: Princess Di.

Although I'm not Kennedy obsessed, I'm endlessly curious about Jackie O. How did this smart, stylish, and capable woman end up with two husbands who hardly supported her independence? Maybe this novel will give me some insights. Here's how it opens, on the morning of November 22, 1963:

The pink pillbox hat and Chanel-inspired bouclé suit awaited her on the bed.

The shouts of “Jack-ie!” still rang in her ears, and her headache had scarcely dulled after yesterday’s constant cascade of blinding flashbulbs. Yet she’d braved the crowds as she had so many other times over the past ten years, and with her husband’s reelection campaign looming, her false smile was guaranteed to become a permanent fixture in the months to come.

So she tugged the watermelon wool skirt over her silk slip and buttoned the jacket’s gold buttons, the deafening roar of applause from downstairs causing the walls to tremble, while John F. Kennedy shook voters’ hands and kissed their chubby-cheeked babies in the ballroom below.

A few more minutes alone, she thought to herself. Just a few more minutes.

There were never enough minutes. And there was never, ever enough time alone.
And They Called It Camelot by Stephanie Marie Thornton (Berkley, March 10, ARC)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: second half of the 20th century; United States and abroad
  • Circumstances: This is a well-researched fictionalized account of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy's life as told through her voice. We learn about her relationships with her birth family, the Kennedy clan, her children, and the Onassis family. We are given a deeper look into the choices she made and the consequences of those choices. At the end of the novel, we see her emerge from her battles as an independent woman with a job she was about to fully own.
  • Genre & themes: historical fiction; family; independence; women's issues; a snapshot of a different generation
  • Gleaned from reviews: well-written, well-researched, insightful (starred review from Publisher's Weekly)
  • Why I want to read this: Besides needing to escape 2020? As I said earlier, I have a fascination with Jackie O and -- though on far, far ends of the editorial spectrum -- we share a career. :)
  • Extras: readers can download a book club kit, which includes a menu as well as discussion questions; an author's note clarifies Thornton's choices for how she told the story; the book includes a bibliography and an author interview.
  • Audiobook: Read by Cassandra Campbell (Penguin Audio: 17 hr, 2 min)
  • Acknowledgments: Thanks to the publisher for the review copy of Stephanie Marie Thornton's And They Called It Camelot.


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 3/17/20, 7:35 AM  

I love reading about the Kennedy's so this sounds really good to me.

rhapsodyinbooks 3/17/20, 7:44 AM  

I too have been fascinated with Jackie. This sounds like something I should get!

Tina 3/17/20, 8:26 AM  

I actually saw JFK riding in an open convertible when I was a child. I believe I was 6 years old when my mother took me to a street corner near Chester Pennsylvania as his motorcade went by. We were all waving and thrilled to see the president.
This book is most definitely going into my cart.
I’ve lots more time for reading now that I’m home 24/7 !

Laurel-Rain Snow 3/17/20, 8:59 AM  

I have this book on my nightstand and can't wait to read it. I love all the Kennedy books that I have read, but Jackie O is my favorite of the clan.


bermudaonion 3/17/20, 11:22 AM  

I want to read this as well.

Daryl 3/17/20, 11:37 AM  

tho it does sound intriguing i need more escapism with this semi self imposed quarantine ... but thanks and i hope alls well with you and yours

Sassy Brit @ Alternative-Read.com 3/17/20, 12:06 PM  

OMG! You have great taste LOL This is my pick for today, too! Jackie O was such an amazing person, and one of my favourites too (coming from a Brit)!

Here's my Jackie O Tuesday post! x

Yvonne 3/17/20, 4:36 PM  

This looks wonderful. I'm always interested in reading about the Kennedys.

Judi from a thoughtful reveal 3/20/20, 2:39 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Judi from a thoughtful reveal 3/20/20, 2:41 PM  

I read Jackie's bio awhile ago and was disenchanted with her after years of thinking of her as American royalty. Maybe reading this will put her back on her throne. I really miss her.

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