Jackie & Me: Book summary and reviews of Jackie & Me by Louis Bayard

Jackie & Me

by Louis Bayard

Jackie & Me by Louis Bayard X
Jackie & Me by Louis Bayard
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About this book

Book Summary

Bestselling author Louis Bayard is back with a brilliantly wrought, witty, and sensitive novel about the young Jacqueline Bouvier before she became that Jackie - and about a marriage that almost never happened.

In the spring of 1951, debutante Jacqueline Bouvier, working as the Inquiring Photographer for the Washington Times-Herald, meets Jack Kennedy, a charming Congressman from a notorious and powerful family, at a party in Washington, DC. Young, rebellious, eager to break free from her mother, Jackie is drawn to the elusive young politician, and soon she and Jack are bantering over secret dinner dates and short work phone calls. Jack, busy with House duties during the week and Senate campaigning on the weekend (as well as his other now-well-known extracurricular activities) convinces his best friend and fixer, Lem Billings, to court Jackie on his behalf. Only gradually does Jackie begin to realize that she is being groomed to be the perfect political wife, whether Jack is interested in settling down or not.

Taking place mostly during the spring and summer before Jack and Jackie's wedding, and narrated by an older Lem as he looks back at his own relationship with the Kennedys and his role in this complicated marriage, Jackie & Me is a searching story about a young woman of a certain class with narrow options, two people who loved each other, and two people who realized too late that they devoted their lives to Jack at their own expense.

Sharply written, steeped in the era and with witty appearances by members of the extended Kennedy clan, this is Jackie as never before seen, in a story about love, sacrifice, friendship, and betrayal.

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Although the bulk of Jackie & Me takes place in the early 1950s, the story is told by Lem Billings from the vantage point of 1981. What does this perspective do for our understanding of the book and its characters?
  2. What common ground do Jackie and Lem find during their initial meeting? Does the nature of their relationship change as they become better acquainted? What do they get from each other that they don't get from anyone else?
  3. Lem uses quantum physics as an analogy for life's potentialities, suggesting that "embedded in every human life, there are traffic crossings, where ... we would see the contingencies of our fate coming together and commingling, before charging off in opposed directions." What do you think of this model...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Bayard produces an 'alternative history' evincing these very public figures' inner lives while considering how different choices might have led to different outcomes...As for Jackie, she's pure delight—beautiful of course, naïve but self-aware, her keen intellect showing small glints of the tough resilience she'll need later on when she's become an icon. Romance with bite: the perfect escapism for today's anxious times." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[Bayard] brings a poignant empathy, persuasive intimacy, and nuanced imagination to his interpretation of a relatively unexamined chapter in Kennedy lore." - Booklist (starred review)

"Bayard is a master of historical fiction; this exquisite book is no exception." - Library Journal (starred review)

"[A]n enchanting narrative...Bayard suffuses the spritzy story with wit, charm, and depth. The result is tailor-made for fans of Camelot drama." - Publishers Weekly

"I absolutely adore this novel! It's a testament to Louis Bayard's remarkable gifts as storyteller how suspenseful it is, given that we already know this story...or do we? Full of Bayard's trademark charm and wit, with prose that sings and a perfect voice, Jackie & Me delighted me from beginning to end." - Angie Kim, author of Miracle Creek

"We all dream of novels as good as this one: Fascinating, funny, gorgeous, heartbreaking. In my next life I want to be Louis Bayard." - Julia Claiborne Johnson, author of Be Frank With Me and Better Luck Next Time

This information about Jackie & Me shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, 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 the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media 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.

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Author Information

Louis Bayard Author Biography

Louis Bayard is a New York Times Notable Book author and has been shortlisted for both the Edgar and Dagger awards for his historical thrillers, which include The Pale Blue Eye and Mr. Timothy. His most recent novel was the critically acclaimed young-adult title Lucky Strikes. He lives in Washington, D.C., and teaches at George Washington University.

Author Interview
Link to Louis Bayard's Website

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Readers Also Browsed . . .

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