Jacqueline Bouvier: An Intimate Memoir
NON FICTION BOOK REVIEW
Title: Jacqueline Bouvier: An Intimate Memoir;
John H. Davis; John Wiley & Sons Inc.;
ISBN: 0-471-12945-3; Hardcover, 256 pages,
Reviewer: Ellen Tremblay , "What caused this
enigmatic woman to confess that she "always
felt like an outsider to American life"? In death,
the fascination with her life continues.
The allure of the Kennedys, and in particular,
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis continues.
Kennedy afficionados will be drawn by this
fascinating look at a famous lady. This rare view
is the perspective of her first cousin and friend,
John Davis. Born the same year, Davis and
Bouvier spent their first twenty summers together
at Lasta, their grandfather's estate in East Hampton.
When the estate was sold, Davis and his mother
were asked to remove the personal effects
of the family before the sale. Thus, his mother
came into possession of the Bouvier family papers,
letters, photographs, wills, diaries and notes.
These she passed on to her son, and they,
along with his personal experiences became
reference material for this book.
"Intimate Memoir" describes the early life,
formative years, and noteworthy events, that
shaped the character of this remarkable woman,
his cousin. It provides the reader with insight into
the development of a very private person who
was to become America's most talked about first lady.
What did Joseph Kennedy see in Jaqueline
Bouvier that so impressed him he "virtually
commanded Jack to marry her"? John Davis
tells us, and describes the characteristics that
the ambitious Kennedy senior felt would make
her a suitable mate for his son, the senator and
future president of the United States of America.
The author provides us with a brief description
of Jacqueline Bouvierís family tree. She was born
into an American family of French descent on her
father's side and Irish descent on her mother's.
In 1815 her great great-grandfather, Michel Bouvier,
a foot soldier in Napoleon's recently defeated army,
emigrated to the U.S. In America he established
himself as a cabinetmaker and later a successful
manufacturer and real estate investor. Although
a family "history" written by her grandfather, states
the family was from "aristocratic stock".
Davis describes Jackie's early years. Her
determination was evident when, at the age of 5,
she won an equestrian event for her age group,
that began a pattern of event wins, which included
blue ribbons at the National Horse Show in New
York's Madison Square Garden.
She seemed to succeed at anything she set her
mind to, from making the Dean's List at Vassar,
being named "Debutante of the Year", to winning
Vogue's Prix de Paris writing contest at the age of 22.
The life led by Jacqueline Bouvier sounds idyllic;
summers in the country and private school in New
York. But at the age of 11, her parents, after several
years of family disharmony, divorced.
From that time on Jackie was torn between a jealous
and controlling mother who was determined to have
her own way, and a doting father she adored. Her
life was a balancing act, trying to please both parents,
and herself too.
What caused this unique woman to confess that she
"always felt like an outsider to American life"? In death,
the fascination with her continues, and her cousin John
gives us a unique perspective.
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