Excerpt from America's Queen by Sarah Bradford, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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America's Queen

A Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

by Sarah Bradford

America's Queen
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2000, 448 pages
    Oct 2001, 512 pages

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Jackie and Bobby were not discreet, meeting frequently alone in public places, as if the unbelievability of their relationship was a shield against the reality.

There was a string of escorts, public cover for more private relationships. Her first sexual affair lasted for eighteen months and was over before it was even hinted at in the press. Jackie had met Jack Wryneck over his plans for Lafayette Square; in the year after Jack's death, she had worked closely with him on the design for Jack's grave. At forty-seven Jack Wryneck was a very attractive man -- six foot three with the athletic physique of the ex-football star -- a brilliant and successful architect and, since his divorce in 1961, the lover of a succession of beautiful women. That autumn Janet Auchincloss had invited him up to Hammersmith to see the work of a famous local stonecarver, who was to execute the inscriptions for Jack's grave. Jackie was there. "I can recall at that time, after this full year of me working with Jackie, me looking at Jackie, Jackie looking at me...all the things we were struggling through. And I remember saying, 'Why don't you let me drive back to Hyannis Port, let me take over from the Secret Service?' And she said she'd be delighted. So we got rid of the Secret Service. It was a beautiful open-top car she was in, so we had a very nice drive back to Hyannis Port, and then...it all started, right then and there, after all the looking at each other, listening to each other, going through all the grieving and the tension and the time.... That's where it started. I spent the weekend with her. I can't for the life of me remember where the children were, I just remember us. So that's how it all started, and then I began seeing her all the time, every weekend....

"Bunny Mellon had a little surprise thing for us, a little cottage all dolled up for Halloween, and by Thanksgiving I was there at Hammersmith, with my children, her children.... We spent the whole weekend with the family." Wryneck reminisced, "She was witty, she was charming, she was fun, she was beautiful, she was passionate, she was all the things we dream about. We talked about intimate things, about how she almost lost her virginity to John Marquand." Jackie also talked tenderly about Bobby, but when she telephoned him to tell him about her new love, Bobby, a political Kennedy to the fingertips, warned her that it was "too soon" after Jack's death. With his political career in New York to consider, and beyond that the inevitable bid for the Presidency, his public interest decreed that Jackie remain the priceless Kennedy asset. Just as Jack had, Jackie compartmentalized her life and her loves. Wryneck could not believe that she and Bobby were closely involved in the autumn of 1964 when they first became lovers. Yet she certainly saw a great deal of Bobby while maintaining her relationship with Wryneck and other men. She spent Christmas 1964 in Aspen with Bobby, Pat, Jean and the children, but no Ethel, who was expecting their tenth child in January. In the first week of February 1965 she was at Puerto Marques, near Acapulco, with the Radziwills as guests of their old friend the architect Fernando Parra Hernandez, but on February 13 she and Bobby took the children skiing again to Lake Placid, and again in Vermont on April 20.

In June she set off for a carefully planned seven-week sojourn in Hawaii, the culmination of her romance with Jack Wryneck. The couple had contemplated marriage, and when Wryneck confessed to Jackie that he had never been baptized, she was delighted: "'Maybe I can make you a Catholic,' and I said, 'I don't mind, it doesn't mean anything to me!' So I said I would find out, we had to be sure." Bobby, however, absolutely vetoed the plan. "I was in the middle of an airport once when he called her up about Wryneck. He was not hesitant," Richard Goodwin recalled. "He was at the damn airport ticket counter and nobody knew what he was talking about, but I did. I mean he was polite, nice, gentle enough in tone, but the message was clear.... Remember they always had one thing in common, apart from their feelings, and that was to protect Jack's good name. John F. Kennedy's reputation and name and historical position. And I think that therefore if Bobby thought a marriage might somehow have jeopardized that, he would have called much quicker than anything else." According to Wryneck, Jackie told him, "Bobby says it's too soon."

Excerpted by permission of Penguin Putnam, Inc. Copyright © Sarah Bradford, 2000.

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