I recently read a non-fiction book as fascinating as any good novel. Mrs. Kennedy and Me is Clint Hill’s story of his years as the Secret Service agent assigned to Jackie Kennedy. It begins immediately following John Kennedy’s election to the presidency and continues for a year beyond his assassination. People of my age remember those times well but there was certainly a lot of behind the scenes information included in Hill’s writing that was never in the news.
Jacqueline Kennedy was an intriguing personality, one who entered the national and world spotlight as a very young woman and handled her celebrity with grace. As a young mother, she wanted to protect her children from too much public attention and try to raise them in as normal a situation as she could manage. Of course, as we read about her life, we see that a “normal” life to her was pretty far removed from what most of us might experience. Even so, I gained a new understanding and appreciation for what she had to go through and a far better insight into the kind of woman she was.
Clint Hill was not pleased when he was informed that his new assignment was to protect the new, young and glamorous First Lady. He had previously been assigned to President Eisenhower and felt his new job was a demotion and couldn’t possibly be as important or exciting. He gradually became very close to Mrs. Kennedy; the job and subsequent events that he went through with her completely changed his life. Sometimes I felt frustrated while reading because I wanted certain questions answered or I felt that the writing wasn’t perfect or was sometimes repetitive, but overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and wanted to go on reading more about Jackie’s life when I was finished. The book is described as “An enthralling, tragic, and intensely private portrayal of the captivating First Lady from a man who knew her like no one else.” Hill wrote the book with the help of journalist Lisa McCubbin. It earned many great reviews; Kirkus Reviews said, “Of the many words written about Jacqueline Kennedy, these are among the best.” I agree and think you will too! Give it a try this summer.
Kathleen Pohlig is owner of Cherry Street Books in Alexandria.
After a Fashion
by Jen Turano
This book, from the Douglas County Library’s “New Book” section, is a quick read.
Set in New York City in 1882, Harriet Peabody is a hat-maker who finds herself in the middle of a business proposition with Oliver Addleshaw. Oliver asks Harriet to pose as his fiancée and from that moment on, chaos and some hilarity along with high society, mystery and romance ensue.
The author’s wit and humor is evident. However, I did find it hard to follow and engage in the story … until becoming completely entranced about halfway through the book.
It was definitely worth the read by the last 100 pages of the 344. I generally read more non-fiction than fiction, and by the end of this book I decided I would check out Jen Turano’s other works. I wanted to read her because she is a new author, wife and mother. She is the author of five books, one of which was one of Booklists’s Top 10 Romances of 2013.
Rachel Barduson lives on Lake Carlos near Alexandria. She engages in Community Education history tours and writes for a few local publications. She loves history and enjoys
The Invention of Wings
by Sue Monk Kidd
The Invention of Wings tells the story of Sarah Grimke, a privileged Southern girl, who receives a 10-year-old slave, Hetty or “Handful,” as a gift on her 11th birthday in pre-Civil War Charleston.
The story follows their lives for 35 years as they both struggle for freedom, Sarah fighting for women’s rights, and Hetty from the ravages of slavery.
I enjoyed this novel and I highly recommend it due to the rich character development and because it is a compelling story that transports the reader back to a tumultuous time in American history.
Sue Monk Kidd is a gifted storyteller who also wrote The Secret Life of Bees.
Trish Conroy is a retired county
librarian who now has plenty of time to read.
reading biographies and historical fiction.