Jacqueline Bouvier: An Intimate Memoir


492 words

Title: Jacqueline Bouvier: An Intimate Memoir;  
John H. Davis; John Wiley & Sons Inc.; 
ISBN: 0-471-12945-3; Hardcover, 256 pages, 
US$24.95 CAN$31.95

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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