Reviews for Jacqueline in paris : A novel.

Library Journal
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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


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A delightful and surprisingly insightful novel follows the junior year abroad of Jacqueline Bouvier, a few years before she became Jackie Kennedy.Telling the story from the perspective of the young Jacqueline, with only a few flashes forward to her future life, Mah moves season by season through her year, beginning in the fall of 1949 and ending in the summer of 1950. Making good use of historical and biographical details, but not strictly bound by them, Mah follows her heroine from the ocean-liner journey where, as the sole Vassar student in the group, she gets to know the rowdy Smith students with whom she will be studying at the Sorbonne, on through her stay with a host family and her meetings with various French natives of whom her socially conscious mother would definitely not approve. Mah convincingly depicts this year as a pivotal one in Bouvier's life, both a sentimental and a political education. Jacqueline has her first real romantic and sexual affair withand has her heart broken byaspiring novelist John Marquand. And, after having been raised to view communism as strictly evil, she has her eyes opened to the complexities of international politics by her host mother, a concentration camp survivor, and her host sister, who may or may not be a spy. Mah, who clearly loves Paris and all the details of French living, affectionately and precisely captures life in the postWorld War II city, with many deprivations but a spirit of hope. Her Jacquelinebright, observant, and a little naveis an engaging and believable character, and it's easy to imagine how her experiences during this year will shape her future life. While Jackie runs into people the reader will recognize, Mah doesn't overstate their importance in her life: Novelist James Baldwin, for example, appears and quickly disappears as Jimmy, one of several writers she runs into in a nightclub. Staying within the consciousness of Jacqueline as she is at this point, Mah smoothly walks the line between biography and fiction.Fans of the former first lady and Paris should be beguiled. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A delightful and surprisingly insightful novel follows the junior year abroad of Jacqueline Bouvier, a few years before she became Jackie Kennedy. Telling the story from the perspective of the young Jacqueline, with only a few flashes forward to her future life, Mah moves season by season through her year, beginning in the fall of 1949 and ending in the summer of 1950. Making good use of historical and biographical details, but not strictly bound by them, Mah follows her heroine from the ocean-liner journey where, as the sole Vassar student in the group, she gets to know the rowdy Smith students with whom she will be studying at the Sorbonne, on through her stay with a host family and her meetings with various French natives of whom her socially conscious mother would definitely not approve. Mah convincingly depicts this year as a pivotal one in Bouvier's life, both a sentimental and a political education. Jacqueline has her first real romantic and sexual affair with—and has her heart broken by—aspiring novelist John Marquand. And, after having been raised to view communism as strictly evil, she has her eyes opened to the complexities of international politics by her host mother, a concentration camp survivor, and her host sister, who may or may not be a spy. Mah, who clearly loves Paris and all the details of French living, affectionately and precisely captures life in the post–World War II city, with many deprivations but a spirit of hope. Her Jacqueline—bright, observant, and a little na´ve—is an engaging and believable character, and it's easy to imagine how her experiences during this year will shape her future life. While Jackie runs into people the reader will recognize, Mah doesn't overstate their importance in her life: Novelist James Baldwin, for example, appears and quickly disappears as Jimmy, one of several writers she runs into in a nightclub. Staying within the consciousness of Jacqueline as she is at this point, Mah smoothly walks the line between biography and fiction. Fans of the former first lady and Paris should be beguiled. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Publishers Weekly
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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.)


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Before she was Jackie Kennedy or Jackie O, she was Jacqueline Bouvier. In her intimate imagining of Jacqueline’s college year in Paris in 1949, Mah (The Lost Vintage, 2018) places her at the epicenter of postwar Europe’s struggle to establish new ideological and societal norms. Despite weekends at storied country estates and giddy weeknight escapades at jazz clubs, Jacqueline’s Paris life is not all baguettes and champagne. She resides in impoverished shabby-chic circumstances with a host family whose mother was imprisoned by the Nazis for her work with the French Resistance and whose eldest daughter is suspected of sympathizing with the Communists currently seeking political power. As a relative political naif, Jacqueline has no affinity for such activism, but her keen intellect and astute observations ignite a curiosity that draws her into renegade cultural circles and sparks a love affair that could have altered the course of history had Jacqueline not trusted her instincts. Mah’s exemplary mix of literary and journalistic skills pays off in this extensively researched novel about the woman who became America’s most iconic and enigmatic first lady.

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