Jackie O: On the Couch is the story of Jackie Kennedy Onassis as she might have written it.
This is not just another biography. For the first time, Jackie O: On the Couch highlights Jackie’s life from her own perspective, as imagined by author Dr. Alma Bond, a psychoanalyst and long-time student of Jackie lore.
The facts are all historically correct, as are the ideas, the Washington intrigue and politics, and the examination of the role of women in society and in the White House. Jackie speaks of her need to record her story truthfully–to replace the hodgepodge of lies published during her lifetime. Speaking as an older woman, she ponders how her points of view have changed from those she held when she was young.
The book delves into her childhood and explores how and why Jackie became the person she was. It also explores the Kennedys, and how John F. Kennedy’s background affected his marriage. Jackie’s deep love for Jack, his early inattentiveness, their difficulties together, his outrageous womanizing, happy times at the White House, and the tragedy of his assassination-all are viewed through Jackie’s eyes.
Jackie writes of her need for Aristotle Onassis, debunking the notion that she married him purely for his money, and traces the joyful early years of the marriage through to its dramatic collapse and Ari’s difficult death.
A different Jackie emerges into the world of publishing. Her new persona allows her to establish her very best relationship with the stout and adoring Maurice Tempelsman, until non-Hodgkins lymphoma takes her life in 1994, at age 64.
Jackie O: On the Couch is a unique exploration of the life and loves of a great historical figure. Jackie Kennedy Onassis deeply prized her privacy and, as a result, she was both revered and mysterious. In this book, much of the mystery is shed as Jackie finally emerges as a fully fleshed-out, three-dimensional person-a true human being, with enormous strengths and shortcomings, who all of us can now understand and appreciate, perhaps for the first time.
I have never understood the fascination people have with Jackie Kennedy. Other that she once was our First Lady, I never liked her or found her particularly special. However, I have read books by the same author in the past and I’ve enjoyed them. Her biographical novel, Camille Claude, A Novel, was beautifully crafted and executed. In any case, this is why I decided to give this book a try.
Another thing I should point out is that, while the book seems well researched, I’m not an expert on the subject so I have no way of knowing if the facts are correct.
This psycho-biography written in first person is part of a series published by Bancroft Press. While I found the book well written and the personal details of Jackie and the people–friends and family–who affected her life interesting and in some cases even fascinating, the voice of Jackie is matter of fact, detached, and even robotic. I’m not sure what the author’s intention was but if she wanted Jackie to come across as a cold, arrogant and totally unlikable character, she succeeded with flying colors. There’s no warmth in the prose, no redeeming quality in Jackie. In fact, she appears in the book even worse than what I had pictured her like.
I found myself skimming over whole sections just to get to the ending sooner. But again, people who are familiar with the life of Jackie might be a better judge of character. I really wanted to like this book but couldn’t. If you want to read a great book by this author, I highly recommend Camille Claude, A Novel instead.