The Secret Memoirs of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: A Novel

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9780312363567: The Secret Memoirs of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: A Novel
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Jackie Kennedy quite famously said, "I want to live my life, not record it." She remains elusive, her interior life hidden, her feelings and motivations secret. Yet who has not wondered what lay behind those sunglasses? Haven't we all wondered how Jackie felt about Jack's womanizing? How could she not have known? How did she tolerate it? How did her childhood passions and turbulent family life shape her choices? How did her love of fashion and culture influence the White House? What did she think about Marilyn Monroe? Why did she ever marry Onassis? What made her take a job in publishing when she clearly didn't need one? How did she endure the loss of her babies, the pressure of the Kennedy political machine, the murder of her husband, the never ending paparazzi, and the news of her imminent death?

In this powerful, poignant, and sweeping novel, Ruth Francisco tells Jackie's story in Jackie's voice and boldly plunges into the subtext of her public life, reimagining her thoughts and feelings between the lines of recorded history.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Ruth Francisco is the author of the critically acclaimed literary mysteries Confessions of a Deathmaiden and Good Morning, Darkness. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

My Story

As I leave the squealing-crashing-honking street and step inside Saks Fifth Avenue, the same department store where my father, Black Jack, gave me a charge account at age ten, the gentlest of artificial breezes greets me.

This is the woman the world observes.

Dressed in a deceptively simple sleeveless shift, hair in a scarf, I pull off my windshield sunglasses and wander up and down the aisles of glistening glass shelves. I stop to admire the crystal-cut perfume bottles and seek out my favorite---Guerlain's Jicky. I spray the tester bottle guiltily, like a secretary on her lunch hour with neither intention nor means to make a purchase. Lavender fills the air---Provence lavender warmed by the midday sun.

I move on before memories overwhelm me.

I pass by blue-and-white porcelains and soft leather purses in amber browns and reds---the colors of exotic hardwoods. I admire the cascading silk scarves---trefoils and fleurs-de-lis, posies and primroses, lions, dragons and unicorns, blue, gold, and red---all carefully displayed so as not to appear cluttered. My eyes drink in the beauty. With each step into the lair of treasures, I forget myself, growing lighter, taller, anonymous.

Beauty calls me to the present, a narcotic, like Circe's seductive caresses, banishing unpleasant thoughts and past humiliations. Long before I knew about grief or suffering or sadness, I found solace in beautiful things. Long after I owned all that one could possibly imagine, without need or desire for more, I found delight in luxury.

Fondly I remember Mummy unwrapping boxes packaged in paisley Florentine papers and golden string, pulling out a second box of shiny enameled cardboard that pulled apart like a plastic egg, revealing inside neatly folded tissue paper too lovely to discard, packaging with no use but to delay, and thus increase, her delight. Then---with a look on her face of almost prayerful reverence---she would hold up something cashmere or crystal or gold.

Mummy had her disappointments, too, and needed beauty's soothing tonic.

I remember shopping together with my sister, Lee, walking side by side like a team of horses, excited by the impression we made, excited to see such beautiful things, excited to be alive. What fun we had. We loved each other, once. My heart crackles with a remorse I can't define.

As I wander the aisles, the saleswomen smile at me pleasantly, eyes sparkling with recognition, yet say nothing, careful not to frighten me off. I give them a nod to show I appreciate their discretion but move on, seeking to buy something that stirs my soul.

I pause in front of a case of men's jewelry---tie pins, cuff links, rings, and chains. An experienced shopper, I realize in a nanosecond that there is nothing of interest here, yet my eyes linger on the money clips. I stand motionless and remember buying Jack a Saint Christopher money clip from Tiffany, in silver, my first major purchase for a man, shivering with excitement as my world began to spin faster and faster, presenting it to him on my wedding day, wanting him to like it, because it was understated and perfect, yet also teasing him, as I often did, because he refused to carry money.

The only man I ever had to pay for at restaurants.

An icicle lodges in my chest---my panic builds, crushing my heart. I can't breathe. Please, give me one day without thinking about him! I must move on---I must put all that behind me. I shake off the image as I have learned to do---Look, open your eyes! What do you see now? What do you smell now?---ordering myself to the present. But my discipline fails me, my thoughts sliding back into dangerous territory, like how these cases are nearly the size of coffins or how jewelry outlives us all.

Is there no escape? Perhaps, I think, it's time for another vacation---although I have yet to unpack from my recent trip to Buenos Aires---perhaps to some place I've never been, which will be difficult because I've been nearly everywhere that has a decent hotel.

Some place---any place---where I can be anonymous.

As I wonder where such a place might be---a remote island in Indonesia or Antarctica---I jump with inspiration. I realize I do need something, a case for my oversize sunglasses, because I have yet to find one big enough that I like and because I have begun to think---in the early mornings after sleepless nights---that the only way to overcome my anxiety is to take off my glasses and look at the world with naked eyes.

I move quickly to a case filled with sunglasses from Paris and Milan and London---lenses from amber to turquoise, frames of tortoiseshell and titanium, displayed naughtily, earpieces spread wide. The salesgirl pulls out a tray of eyeglass cases, her manicured fingers trembling as she snaps open one in black crocodile skin. In her confusion as to how to address me---Bouvier? Kennedy? Onassis?---the salesgirl quivers with nervousness, her words barely audible. "These are just in from Milan---very chic, very classy," she says, immediately overcome with embarrassment, as if mortified to be telling her famous customer what is chic and classy.

Suddenly I see a quick, furtive movement out of the corner of my eye. Pop, pop, pop! Bolts of lightning explode off the mirrors, blinding me, burning my optic nerves. Oh, my God, no!

In an instant, I'm back in the motorcade, the Dallas sun shooting off windshields and office windows like broken glass, deafening rifle blasts bouncing off buildings. Jack! Jack!

I turn and see him, the Cyclops, crouching near the escalator, lips moist with spittle, his lens pointed at me, his round black eye, silver-lidded, unblinking. He fires his flash.

I panic. Get me out of here!

I shove on my sunglasses and rush to the door. Suddenly everyone seems to recognize me, pointing, as if spotting a fox on a hunt. "It's Jackie!" "Look! Look!" "There she is! Jackie. O."

His gumshoes squeak behind me on the marble floors, camera lenses and extra film rattling in his pockets. I twirl out the revolving door into the chaos of Fifth Avenue and sprint across the street. I hear him behind me, puffing, calling my name, "Jackie! Wait!" I run for my life.

Fleeing the past, evading the present, frightened of the future, I can never run fast enough.

He is always there, pursuing me like a guilty conscience, stealing my mortality---he or another Cyclops just like him. He calls my name, his legs akimbo, pelvis tucked as he steadies his lens---"Jackie! Over here! Look at me!" Surprised, I glance at him, then run blindly, my eyes throbbing from his flash.

This is the woman the world sees on the front page of a half a dozen tabloids, fleeing across Central Park like Bigfoot in a meadow before darting into an impenetrable forest.

This is the woman the world judges as if they own her.

I know what they say about me. To some I am the perfect mother, a woman of grace and dignity, the courageous widow. To others I am hedonistic and greedy---obsessed with material things. Others say that I am calculating and cold and that I scorn introspection. Still others condemn me for not giving back in my maturity---for not championing a cause---for not wandering through the muddy streets of Third World countries, giving hungry children my money, my love, myself.

Behind the woman in the photos is another woman---a girl, a wife, a mother. Like you, I am a woman of passion and deep emotion who desires and dreams. I am a woman who walks alone by the sea, who rides her horse, who hums to herself as she dabbles with her paints in the shade. Who looks into the eyes of those she loves as if into the face of God.

I have hidden for so long my joy, my pain, my memories, demanding my privacy---"I want to live my life, not write about it!" But as I draw closer to the time when one final Cyclops will take one last photo---that of my casket being lowered into the ground---I have come to understand that privacy is an illusion. After we die, we live only in the memories and imaginations of those who think of us.

Perhaps I've never known myself. I must look and see who I was, who I am.

The woman who looks out from the photo.

Copyright © 2006 by Ruth Francisco

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9780312337995: The Secret Memoirs of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: A Novel

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ISBN 10:  031233799X ISBN 13:  9780312337995
Publisher: St. Martin's Press, 2006
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Book Description St Martin's Press, United States, 2006. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English. Brand new Book. Jackie Kennedy quite famously said, "I want to live my life, not record it." She remains elusive, her interior life hidden, her feelings and motivations secret. Yet who has not wondered what lay behind those sunglasses? Haven't we all wondered how Jackie felt about Jack's womanizing? How could she not have known? How did she tolerate it? How did her childhood passions and turbulent family life shape her choices? How did her love of fashion and culture influence the White House? What did she think about Marilyn Monroe? Why did she ever marry Onassis? What made her take a job in publishing when she clearly didn't need one? How did she endure the loss of her babies, the pressure of the Kennedy political machine, the murder of her husband, the never ending paparazzi, and the news of her imminent death? In this powerful, poignant, and sweeping novel, Ruth Francisco tells Jackie's story in Jackie's voice and boldly plunges into the subtext of her public life, reimagining her thoughts and feelings between the lines of recorded history. Seller Inventory # APC9780312363567

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Book Description St Martin's Press, United States, 2006. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English. Brand new Book. Jackie Kennedy quite famously said, "I want to live my life, not record it." She remains elusive, her interior life hidden, her feelings and motivations secret. Yet who has not wondered what lay behind those sunglasses? Haven't we all wondered how Jackie felt about Jack's womanizing? How could she not have known? How did she tolerate it? How did her childhood passions and turbulent family life shape her choices? How did her love of fashion and culture influence the White House? What did she think about Marilyn Monroe? Why did she ever marry Onassis? What made her take a job in publishing when she clearly didn't need one? How did she endure the loss of her babies, the pressure of the Kennedy political machine, the murder of her husband, the never ending paparazzi, and the news of her imminent death? In this powerful, poignant, and sweeping novel, Ruth Francisco tells Jackie's story in Jackie's voice and boldly plunges into the subtext of her public life, reimagining her thoughts and feelings between the lines of recorded history. Seller Inventory # BZE9780312363567

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Book Description St Martin's Press, United States, 2006. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English. Brand new Book. Jackie Kennedy quite famously said, "I want to live my life, not record it." She remains elusive, her interior life hidden, her feelings and motivations secret. Yet who has not wondered what lay behind those sunglasses? Haven't we all wondered how Jackie felt about Jack's womanizing? How could she not have known? How did she tolerate it? How did her childhood passions and turbulent family life shape her choices? How did her love of fashion and culture influence the White House? What did she think about Marilyn Monroe? Why did she ever marry Onassis? What made her take a job in publishing when she clearly didn't need one? How did she endure the loss of her babies, the pressure of the Kennedy political machine, the murder of her husband, the never ending paparazzi, and the news of her imminent death? In this powerful, poignant, and sweeping novel, Ruth Francisco tells Jackie's story in Jackie's voice and boldly plunges into the subtext of her public life, reimagining her thoughts and feelings between the lines of recorded history. Seller Inventory # APC9780312363567

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Book Description Griffin. Paperback. Condition: New. 368 pages. Dimensions: 8.1in. x 5.4in. x 1.2in.Jackie Kennedy quite famously said, I want to live my life, not record it. She remains elusive, her interior life hidden, her feelings and motivations secret. Yet who has not wondered what lay behind those sunglassesHavent we all wondered how Jackie felt about Jacks womanizingHow could she not have known How did she tolerate it How did her childhood passions and turbulent family life shape her choices How did her love of fashion and culture influence the White House What did she think about Marilyn MonroeWhy did she ever marry Onassis What made her take a job in publishing when she clearly didnt need one How did she endure the loss of her babies, the pressure of the Kennedy political machine, the murder of her husband, the never ending paparazzi, and the news of her imminent deathIn this powerful, poignant, and sweeping novel, Ruth Francisco tells Jackies story in Jackies voice and boldly plunges into the subtext ofher public life, reimaginingher thoughts and feelings between the lines of recorded history. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Seller Inventory # 9780312363567

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