I heartily enjoy reading biographies – or autobiographies if I can get my hands on a decently edited copy – of strong, influential (most-especially American) women. Surprisingly perhaps, I had previously never been interested in reading or knowing anything at all about Ms. Jackie O – as for me she was nothing more than a woman in large sunglasses. However, after reading a Monroe bio, I realized I absolutely needed to read more about Jackie – who apparently preferred to be called Jacqueline – immediately.
Through the course of the biography I read many things that I expected to find – most notably that her first husband President John F. Kennedy cheated on her often and with a myriad of women. (Jackie’s second husband, Aristotle Onassis, also had a long-standing affair with another woman while married to her.) What I was slightly shocked to discover was that Kennedy slept with her friends, women under her employ, and her sister, Lee Radziwill (allegedly). Because of these betrayals, Jackie was said to be cold towards women and hard to get acquainted with – which at least in my mind – is completely understandable.
However, when it came to men, Jackie did not seem to have those similar reservations. She revered her father - lovingly referred to as Black Jack – who was a self-processed ladies man, whom freely cheated on Jackie’s mother in a similar fashion to the way John cheated on Jackie. According to the biographer, Jackie found men to be the ultimate game. She loved seducing them and making them feel as though they were the most important person in the room – and she did not seem to care if a gentleman of her choosing was married or not. Allegedly, she even started an affair with President Kennedy’s younger brother Bobby following the assassination – even though he was married and a father to almost a dozen children.
This book was very enjoyable to read and shared not only the history of Jackie – but also of the time in which she lived and the people who defined that time. I have never spent much time studying the history of the sixties – but this novel certainty peaked my interest.
In regards to Jackie O – well, I can’t honestly say she is a dame I would want to be friends with, but she is most definitely someone to be admired for her strength and sense of self. She was able to carry herself with grace and calm – even during the most heinous of events – though she visibly suffered inwardly even as she sparkled outwardly.