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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Jackie After O by Tina Cassidy

Jackie After O by Tina Cassidy
Published by ItBooks, ISBN 978-0-06-199433-3
Hardcover, $24.99, 276 pages
The fascination with the Kennedy family is perpetual, and even though Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was a Kennedy by marriage, her life still generates books, films and even a jewelry line bearing her influence and name.

Tina Cassidy has written a book, Jackie After O: One Remarkable Year When Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Defied Expectations & Rediscovered Her Dreams, that gives a brief overview of her subject's life, concentrating more on the work she accomplished and less on her well-documented personal life.

Most people know about Jackie's work restoring the White House, and the famous television interview she did showing the results to the American people. Less well known but just as fascinating were her efforts to preserve the historical architecture on Lafayette Square, which surrounded the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue. She fought developers and convinced her husband of the importance of preserving the historical buildings.

Onassis again put her name and efforts behind saving another American landmark in 1975; the beautiful Grand Central Terminal in New York City. At that time, New York City was on the verge of economic collapse, and the city could not afford to fight developers who wanted to put a skyscraper on top of Grand Central Terminal to house office space.

The Municipal Art Society was formed and as part of that committee, Onassis lent her prestige and name and appeared at a prominent press conference that announced their efforts to sue to preserve the historical landmark. When she spoke at the press conference, she garnered much more press attention to a worthy cause than would have otherwise been created. She wrote letters and strategized as to how to preserve this indelible New York landmark, and thanks in part to that committees's efforts, Grand Central Terminal is now restored to its rightful grandeur.

After her second husband died, and her children were teens and off to school, Onassis was looking for another challenge. She wanted a job, a career. Literature was always important to her and she ended up at Viking working as an editor.

The most interesting part of this book is related by Rebecca Singleton, the young editorial assistant who was given the task of working with Onassis. Singleton was hoping to be promoted to editor herself as she was an ambitious go-getter, and her work was well liked by her supervisors.

Singleton recounts so many wonderful, warm stories about her working relationship with Onassis. It is intriguing to see this side of Onassis; someone who wanted to learn, be accepted and be good at her job.

One delightful anecdote concerned the rule at the office that the first one in had to make the coffee. A director of publicity recalls arriving "to find Jackie wrestling on the floor with a bag trying to open it. She sheepishly handed it to him. He opened it. And then she took it back to brew a pot for the office."

We do see some of her troubled marriage with Ari Onassis, and her difficult relationship with step-daughter Cristina, but this book is strongest when relating Jacqueline's passion for preservation and literature, using her talents and name to do good works of which she could be proud.

Fans of the Kennedy mystique will enjoy this refreshing and interesting take on a different side of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, a woman who will always intrigue us.

rating 4 of 5

1 comment:

  1. Nice review.....I was very young when Jackie was first lady and the fascination with her was evident , even for a child. She was America's royalty to be sure.