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Jacqueline in Paris : a novel
2022
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Library Journal Review
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.--Jennie Mills
Publishers Weekly Review
Mah (The Lost Vintage) imagines the education of Jacqueline Bouvier in 1949 Paris in this sumptuous outing. As a Vassar student studying abroad, Jacqueline is conscious of her behavior and ever mindful of her mother's advice to keep up appearances, as she mingles with aristocratic French families. Though a visit with her purported Bouvier relatives falls short of the illustrious family connections her grandfather boasted about, Jacqueline revels in French culture. While residing with a widowed French countess and her daughters, Jacqueline becomes concerned by the countess' frequent nightmares. She learns the horrors the countess witnessed after being sent to a concentration camp for her involvement with the resistance. Meanwhile, Jacqueline enjoys her friendship with Paul de Ganay, the son of an aristocratic family, who reminds her of the ever-shifting political factions and the danger of mentioning communism in the wrong crowd. As Jacqueline becomes involved with writer Jack Marquand, she becomes concerned by his increasingly tense behavior and fears that he may be a member of the Communist Party, though he claims his affiliation with party members is purely for research. Mah brings insight and vivid details to young Jacqueline Bouvier's adventurous spirit. Historical fiction fans will be drawn like moths to a flame. Agent: Deborah Gelfman Schneider, Schneider Literary Agents, Inc. (Sept.)
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