Jacqueline in Paris

Before she was Jackie Kennedy, First Lady of the United States, she was Jacqueline Bouvier, Queen Deb (debutante) in 1947, a product of a modest upbringing with divorced parents and an overbearing mother who is intent on finding her daughter a suitable and prestigious man with whom to form a strategic (and perhaps even loving) union.  In her prime courting years, however, Jacqueline is intent on spending a year studying in Paris where she can fully immerse herself in the culture of a war-torn country a half of a world away.  Her strong French heritage has always played a key role in her fascination with France, and she thinks there is no better time than now to go on this adventure of a lifetime.  Her time in Paris is one filled with learning, love, loss, confusion, fear, delight, wonder, and sincere appreciation.  With the Allied victory against the Axis powers being less than a decade ago, Jacqueline finds herself in a country that is slowly trying to pick up the pieces after fighting two, devastating wars in twenty years.  Her host family has their share of secrets surrounding their involvement with the Resistance, and Jacqueline quickly finds herself at the threshold of the world’s newest conflict involving Russia, spies, and nuclear weapons.  Young idealists who sympathize with Communist ideology challenge her democratic tendencies, and she is both fascinated with and confused by this struggle between two very different groups who both believe their way of thinking is the only way forward for France.  Jacqueline’s experiences are shaped not only by the political climate at the time, but also through the company with whom she keeps.  Her French and American friends and lover are all significant characters with whom she establishes such deep and meaningful connections that enables her to find out more about herself in 12 months than she knew about herself in the past 20 years.  When she returns to America following her coursework abroad, she brings with her a lifelong appreciation for France as well as the knowledge that would be necessary in the future as she accompanied her husband, the President of the United States, to France on diplomatic visits.

Why I read it:  My book of the month subscription pick

Trigger warnings: mild sexual content

My thoughts (may contain spoilers)