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Jackie Ethel Joan: Women of Camelot


Jackie Ethel Joan: Women of Camelot

Growing up in a Catholic household in New England, the Kennedys were considered kings. Not just rich royalty but religious, correct, large-familied, Yankee-ingenuity royalty. I feel like I've read and heard every possible story I ever could about the family.

Now comes JACKIE, ETHEL, JOAN: Women of Camelot by J. Randy Taraborrelli, concentrating only on these three strong, courageous, and ultimately disgraced women who suffered the slings and arrows of clutching to the arm of political stars in the American political firmament. I learned a few things I never knew before, but there's little here that any even random follower of Kennedy myth and legend would know.

Joan Kennedy, ex-wife of Senator Ted, is the woman whom we learn the most about in this book, since she never suffered the martyred widowhood that her sisters-in-law did. Joan, the daughter of successful but alcoholic parents, became known as the Kennedy family's conscience. Her keen eye to family issues was not so clear when it turned upon her own life. Unable to reconcile herself to Ted's inability to remain faithful to her, Joan turned to the alcoholism that was her personal family heritage. With the help of Jackie, she was able to overcome her addiction to drink as well as her failed marriage, turning her life completely around in the process.

The other thing I did not realize was how close these women became, serving as sisters under the dual auspices of political wives as well as the women who suffered at the hands of their husbands' philandering and family hardball. Each of them worked hard on their husbands' campaigns (often pregnant with the ever-growing Kennedy family population) and all of them rallied around the others at times of crisis, such as JKF's dangerous affair with Marilyn Monroe and Ted's unfortunate "accident" at Chappaquiddick, at which point Joan was designated as the person to relay the family's condolences to Mary Jo Kopechne's family.

This is an interesting psychological study of forced sisterhood, of the intelligent women behind the powerful men, of a family whose legend threatens to outweigh the individual achievements of its members.

JACKIE, ETHEL, JOAN is a good summer read, so get a copy before Memorial Day and have it ready for your next vacation.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on October 1, 2000

Jackie Ethel Joan: Women of Camelot
by J. Randy Taraborrelli

  • Publication Date: October 1, 2000
  • Genres: Nonfiction
  • Mass Market Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 0446609129
  • ISBN-13: 9780446609128