And They Called It Camelot Summary and Reviews

And They Called It Camelot

A Novel of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis

by Stephanie Marie Thornton

And They Called It Camelot by Stephanie Marie Thornton X
And They Called It Camelot by Stephanie Marie Thornton
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Book Summary

An unforgettable portrait of the iconic life of Jackie O as she transforms herself into an American legend from acclaimed author Stephanie Marie Thornton.

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.

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Media Reviews

"Students of history will appreciate Thornton's exacting research and convincing portrayal of the first lady and style icon, and Kennedy aficionados will feel as if they have an unparalleled access to Camelot. Thornton's magnificent portrayal of Onassis will delight fans of Kennedy-related fiction." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"And They Called It Camelot is the book club pick of the year. Stephanie Marie Thornton brings an American icon to life: Jackie the debutante, the First Lady, the survivor who at last becomes the heroine of her own story." - Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Huntress

"An extraordinary profile of the courage and grace of the indomitable Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, And They Called It Camelot is impeccably researched and richly drawn. Thornton celebrates the former First Lady's life in a sweeping account filled with poignant intimacy. Readers are instantly transported to Jackie's version of Camelot as they immerse themselves in the fascinating and tumultuous history of the times. An unputdownable, unforgettable read." - Chanel Cleeton, New York Times bestselling author of Next Year in Havana

 "Addictive, dishy, and emotionally haunting, this novel paints an intimate portrait of a tumultuous marriage that played out on the world's stage and ended in national tragedy. Loving and losing one of history's most charismatic American presidents marks Jacqueline Kennedy's life ever after, but oh, how she rises up from the ashes. Vivid, engrossing, and utterly unforgettable, And They Called It Camelot is Thornton's best work yet." - Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling coauthor of America's First Daughter

"Stephanie Thornton has compellingly and sympathetically humanized an American icon. Well researched and beautifully written, And They Called It Camelot is compulsively readable historical fiction!" - Laura Kamoie, New York Times Bestselling coauthor of My Dear Hamilton

"Even if you think you know the story of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, you're in for rare behind-the-scenes look at the former First Lady's life. Stephanie Thornton has channeled this iconic woman and delivers such an intimate portrait, at times I had to remind myself that this is a novel and not Kennedy's own memoir. Such an ambitious undertaking and Thornton not only pulls it off, she hits it out of the park. This book is nothing short of magical." - Renee Rosen, author of Park Avenue Summer

"This book grabbed me from page one and wouldn't let me go. A multi-dimensional imagining of the trials and triumphs of Jaqueline Bouvier Kennedy, And They Called It Camelot will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about this remarkable First Lady. Full of glamour, scandal, and heartache, this is a novel you will want to discuss with all of your friends." - Kerri Maher, author of The Girl in White Gloves

 "And They Called It Camelot is a sumptuous, propulsive, scandal-filled peek behind the curtain of American royalty. Thornton gives the reader a fascinating look at the masks worn by those who live in the public life. One might not agree with all of Jackie's choices, but the force of her instinct for survival cannot be denied." - Erika Robuck, national bestselling author of Hemingway's Girl 

"Her Jackie steps out of the pages a convincing, three-dimensional character, complete with contradictions and self-doubt. It's like reading her private diary – witty, warm and full of color. The shining heart of the novel is her love for (and frustration with) Jack, who is described as a golden figure, so sexy any of us would swoon at his feet. Their attraction is tangible and sizzling hot. All the way through, Stephanie's writing is vivid, with lots of memorable images (like those lemon-lipped Rah-Rah Sisters!). I'm going to have to go back and read it all again in a few weeks." - Gill Paul, author of The Lost Daughter

"Lush, smart, and sumptuously elegant, Stephanie Marie Thornton's And They Called It Camelot captures Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy's life in all its many complexities, drawing back the curtain on a legend to reveal the all-too-human woman beneath. A beautiful portrait of an American icon." - Bryn Turnbull, author of The Woman Before Wallis

"And They Called It Camelot, by Stephanie Marie Thornton, is simply spellbinding. This intimate story of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis portrays a woman finding her way in a landscape dominated by men, and, with grace and astounding resilience, forging an identity the world will never forget. A tale of love and devastation, greatness and sacrifice, this remarkable novel will grip readers until the last page." - Kristin Beck, author of Resistance

This information about And They Called It Camelot was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Karen L. (Wilton, IA)

Excellent Historical Fiction. Loved it!
I have always loved reading about JFK and about Jackie. This book is excellent for fans of either JFK or Jackie. You feel like you are living Jackie life with her through her eyes. Her experiences were thrilling and heart breaking. This book brings history to life. I loved this book. I would recommend it to book clubs including the ones I belong to. It is a longer book but I read it quickly. I could not put it down. I know it is fiction but I think the author researched Jackie well. It stayed close to nonfiction sources that I have read about the Kennedys.

Valerie M. (Los Angeles, CA)

Beautiful Jackie O.
Before everything changed, before guilt, loneliness and suffering were daily companions, Jackie Kennedy was a young wife of privilege with impeccable taste and adorable children. A powerful man as her husband rounded out an image of perfection, absent Jack Kennedy's frequent dalliances with mistresses. Happy in her married life, the Kennedys of Jack and Jackie were planning a getaway to California but first they were in Dallas on a political trip. It was routine, mundane and partly annoying until ordinary shifted to tragic without warning.

Essayist Joan Didion once remarked: Life changes. It changes in an instant. Upon Jackie Kennedy's hands and in her lap, in an instant, were shards of bone and blood belonging to her beloved husband.

The death of a husband president is without peer. However one episode of horror doesn't a life make. The rest of it, the length and width of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, as told by Stephanie Marie Thornton in And They Called It Camelot: A Novel of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, is entertaining, compelling, heartbreaking, tragic, uplifting and a damned good read. Jackie Kennedy Onassis' life was much bigger than one very bold assassination.

There was the boyfriend she dumped before she began dating Jack Kennedy; she was bored to tears by stockbroker John Husted. There was Jackie's own ambition and love of books, adventure, photography, fashion and design. She didn't just want to be a wife. She wanted to matter creatively. When she fell in love with Jack Kennedy her world changed.

The historical novel Stephanie Marie Thornton penned is a gem. It's the kind of novel you just can't put down but to call it a page turner somehow feels crass. It's much more than that. Thornton gracefully holds the life of Jackie Kennedy Onassis in her hands, exploring the pain of miscarriages and dead babies, infidelity, fear, joy, love and jealousy. Thornton includes details not often reported. Jackie called her father-in- law Poppy Doodle. Jack affectionately called her Kid. She had an intimate relationship with brother-in-law Bobby which felt peculiarly sexual and spiritual in nature.

Thornton though mines the details like a neurosurgeon, carefully inserting the knife in sensitive membranes. She's talented at dramatizing the inner life of women and exposing what Jackie O. desperately wanted hidden, that she loved a man almost more than she loved herself which makes her a sympathetic and familiar woman. As a historical figure, she was protective, restless, sharp, witty, and unafraid to chart a course that had others shaking their head. Beauty is skin deep is an apt description of the woman who lived in the White House for 1,036 days. Beautiful Jackie.

Becky S. (Springfield, MO)

Couldn't put it down!!
I loved this book from the beginning .. the tale of Camelot and so much more, through the eyes of the legend Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.. what an incredible life she lived.. fairytale and tragedy. Stephanie Marie Thornton has done a fantastic job of telling the story.. one that will stick with me forever. Love her writing style , I stayed up many nights reading.. not wanting to put this book down!

Wendy F. (Kalamazoo, MI)

America's Queen
Loved this book. Stephanie Marie Thornton is able to look into the souls of her characters to truly convey their hearts. We all know the story of Jacqueline Kennedy but this one brings her closer to us. Her strength and grace are incomparable. It helped a country and a world to get through horrible tragedies. But in this book we witness her vulnerability and devotion to her children throughout her struggles.

Betty T. (Warner Robins, GA)

Portrait of the Real Jackie
Over the years, I have read a lot of books on Jackie Kennedy, this being my first historical fiction offering. But I am a fan of Stephanie Marie Thornton's books so was eager to read it. I have to say that I absolutely loved this book. The story is told as Jackie might have told it and covers the time of her meeting Jack to the dedication of Jack's presidential library. While most books I have read previously focused only on her relationship with the men in her life – her father and her husbands – this book also discusses Jackie's relationship with her mother and her sister. I thought Thornton captured Jackie's voice so well I felt like I was reading Jackie's own personal memoir. Jackie has always been viewed as a cold, unemotional woman so I loved the expression of her thoughts and feelings throughout this book. Her struggles, her character, and her strength are beautifully expressed.
Since it is told from Jackie's perspective there is a sense of intimacy throughout the book. I loved the magical moments between Jack and his children. My heart was torn as I read of how in spite of the affairs Jack came to understand the remarkable wife he had. I admired Jackie's determination to protect her children. An example of just one of many charming moments with the children: at a dedication ceremony at Runnymede - "and laughing until my sides ached when a uniformed Beefeater had to fish John from inside a cannon at the Tower of London."

I loved the sensitivity given to her relationship with Bobby after her husband's death. Bobby was her strength, always there when she needed him. He really seemed to understand her. And I loved her relationship with the indomitable Joseph Kennedy, the patriarch of the family.

I enjoyed reading of her interest in history and design through the retelling of her renovation of the White House and her fight to save New York City's Grand Central Station from demolition. And her love of books which seems to have never been addressed in any other book.

I was only in the second grade when President Kennedy was shot, but I remember the time vividly. This book took me back to that time and allowed me a glimpse into the adult world. I remember my concern for Caroline and John as Caroline was only a year younger than me. I remember how Jackie was praised for her grace and strength. But I also remember several years later when she was vilified for marrying Onassis. Through this book I got a better understanding of why Jackie made the decisions she did. I feel like I got to see the real Jackie - with her flaws, her doubts, her fears – and cheered her on as she managed to move on.

Thank you to Book Browse for an advance copy of this book to review. All opinions are my own.

Leslie R. (Lynchburg, VA)

As If You Were There
How challenging it must be for an author to write in first person about an iconic figure that many people in the reading audience will remember. Ms. Thornton emphasizes in her author notes that this is a book of fiction, and she goes on to explain how and when she took liberties with names and dates. The end result, however, is a captivating book of amazing scope but filled with intimate details. The intricate descriptions and dialogue pull the reader into the story and make the events of history feel like personal family lore. A poignant and mesmerizing read.

...15 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Stephanie Marie Thornton Author Biography

Stephanie Marie Thornton is a high school history teacher and lives in Alaska with her husband and daughter.

Stephanie's first two novels, The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora and Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt reimagine the lives of two of history's forgotten women: Theodora of the Byzantine Empire and Pharaoh Hatshepsut.

Her third and fourth books center around the women who stood behind the greatest conquerors the world has ever seen. The Tiger Queens is the story of Genghis Khan's wife and daughters, while The Conqueror's Wife tells of the women who both loved and hated Alexander the Great.

With her love of the ancient world,Stephanie also joined the H Team to help pen a collaborative novel, Song of War: A Novel of Troy, a new spin on the story of ...

... Full Biography
Link to Stephanie Marie Thornton's Website

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