Title: And They Called It Camelot: A Novel of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis
Author: Stephanie Marie Thornton
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: March 10th, 2020 (Berkley)
Synopsis: Few of us can claim to be the authors of our fate. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy knows no other choice. With the eyes of the world watching, Jackie uses her effortless charm and keen intelligence to carve a place for herself among the men of history and weave a fairy tale for the American people, embodying a senator’s wife, a devoted mother, a First Lady—a queen in her own right.
But all reigns must come to an end. Once JFK travels to Dallas and the clock ticks down those thousand days of magic in Camelot, Jackie is forced to pick up the ruined fragments of her life and forge herself into a new identity that is all her own, that of an American legend.
Stephanie Thornton’s latest novel brings us the story of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis from her first meeting with Jack, all the way to the dedication of the JFK Library. This is going to be a rather short review because the beauty of this book is in the way the story unfolds, so too many details will spoil the experience. As a rule, I tend to stay away from post WWII era historical fiction in general, but Stephanie Thornton’s novels are some of the few I am willing to try, particularly when it comes to historical personas I know little about. After last year’s American Princess, I am basically willing to read anything she writes. And They Called It Camelot is narrated in first person, by Jackie herself, and it was the perfect way to get to know this famous figure in American history.
As is with most of her novels, this is not one that can be rushed through. This narrative takes its time getting to the point, seeming torturously slow at times, especially since the reader knows where it’s going, but despite that manages to build up a kind of anticipation. I liked that this book took the time to focus on Jackie’s relationships with the rest of the Kennedys, in particular her father in law Joe and brother in law Bobby, both of whom not only supported her in times of need, but recognized and appreciated her intelligence and political acumen. As we follow Jackie through the years, we get a surprisingly intimate glimpse into her life and the story behind those golden days of Camelot. Her public image was always one of grace and sophistication, but Stephanie Thornton skillfully portrays the woman beneath – her trials and tribulations and her strength and perseverance in the face of hardships and loss and it’s impossible to not come away from this book with a new sense of respect for her.
Overall, this was a wonderful read, and clearly a very well researched one too. The author’s note is also very interesting and it discusses the few liberties that have been taken with the story. While this is a fictional account, it mirrors true events and timelines very closely and it was a delight to read. I absolutely loved this portrayal of Jackie Kennedy and I can’t wait to see what Stephanie Thornton’s next work is going to be. And They Called It Camelot is a book I would highly recommend for any historical fiction fans.
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!