Jacqueline in Paris

Mariner: Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2022. 352p. ISBN 9780062997012. $27.99. F
In 1949, a future first lady begins her junior year of college abroad in postwar France. Jacqueline Bouvier is a debutante from a financially precarious family; her mother wants her to marry well and soon. Jacqueline, however, wants to explore her world before settling down in marriage. She enters a France that is still showing the effects of war, with rationing in place and shifting political alliances among her friends. Her host family was in the French Resistance, with host mother Comtesse de Renty having survived Ravensbruck. There’s a swirling communist movement among the students in Paris. Her beau, Jack Marquand, infiltrates student communist cells on behalf of the CIA. Jacqueline views this act as a betrayal of friends, yet it adds to her political awareness, which will serve her well in her future marriage to JFK. Mah (The Lost Vintage) entrances with her descriptions of France, its food, and its scenery. Jacqueline’s awakening and understanding of the political world around her adds depth to this novel, taking it beyond the romance between Jacqueline and Marquand. The novel is also rich with historic detail, but the author does conflate several living people into composite characters; she notes where this was done.
VERDICT Readers, especially those fascinated by all things Kennedy, will enjoy.
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