And They Called It Camelot

Stephanie Marie Thornton

Berkley Pub.

March 10th, 2020

And They Called It Camelot by Stephanie Marie Thornton brings to life one of America’s iconic figures, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.  Although much has been written and told, readers who think they know everything about her legacy will find that there are actually new and meaningful true revelations with this intimate portrait. 

The author emphasized, “I would like to think my version is lightly fictionalized because there was a lot of research I did to make it as authentic as possible.  I tried to put most everything in that was true, but if not, I wrote it in the author’s notes.  It was not necessary to embellish their lives. I wrote the story from Jackie’s voice to put the reader there and in her thoughts.  I wanted them to be a fly on the wall and see her amazing life through her eyes.  I think it was a more powerful story because people could realize what it was like to be Jackie Kennedy and experience all those events.”

The former First Lady was glamorous, strong, intelligent, politically savvy, charming, and stylistic.  She was able to adapt to the many difficult situations thrown at her. This legend was full of grace, dignity, with a potent strength to survive.

Although billed as a novel it is more like a memoir, with Jackie telling the readers her thoughts and the events of her life.  There is a glimpse of her upbringing in a broken home with a harsh mother, to becoming a debutante, horsewoman, and journalist. But the real story begins after she met Congressman John F. Kennedy, marries him, and they begin their journey, becoming America’s royalty. By telling the story in Jackie’s voice, readers are able to feel her pain and to celebrate her triumphs. They grieve with her over three of her children’s death, the many painful episodes of JFK’s infidelity, and that bloody day in Dallas when Camelot ended.  But they will also cheer as they see her formidable ways, not shying away from her husband’s philandering, but confronting him head on. The last few years of their marriage they became partners where both recognized their love for each other and how they respected, needed, and depended on one another. 

“I put in two book quotes that typified him.  “Jack holds everyone in the palm of his hands,” and “The potency of Jack’s allure, his ability to make you feel as if you were the only person on earth who mattered to him, even if it was only a façade.” He did make people feel like they were the most important people in the room, until he moved on to the next person. He is a war hero, a man of action, who had great ideas including the Peace Corps and going to the moon.  I think he liked to compartmentalize. He was terribly charismatic.”  

The last part of the book explores the close relationship between Bobby Kennedy and Jackie, how each gained solace and strength from one another as they tried to cope with President Kennedy’s assassination. Then there was the marriage to Aristotle Onassis, mainly to protect her children. The novel ended on a positive note with Jackie Kennedy Onassis just becoming “Jackie,” making a career for herself as an editor. The story concluded in 1977 with the dedication of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.

“I think that Jackie’s relationship with Bobby was intriguing. Both of them were so broken after the assassination and became incredibly close emotionally. They leaned on each other. He was her anchor, friend, guard, and comforter. She became his advisor and confidant who encouraged him to pursue his ideals even though she had hesitations.” 

John F. Kennedy wrote a book entitled Profiles In Courage about historical figures, acts of integrity, bravery, and mental toughness. After reading this fictional account by Thornton, it becomes apparent that had Profiles In Couragebeen written today, Jackie Kennedy would have been included. Throughout her life she showed the most noble of human values and a formidable spirit with incredible strength and resilience. 



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About the Author

Elise Cooper

Elise writes book reviews that always include a short author interview.