What if a famous person sat down on your couch and opened up their entire soul to you? There would be no holds barred. You would know it all. You would hear the entire truth. The good and the bad would be laid open before you. What if that person was Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis? Alma H. Bond takes the facts of Mrs. Onassis’ life and delivers them as though they were through her own lips in her book, Jackie O: On the Couch: Inside the Mind and Life of Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
I have to admit that like many others in America and around the world, I have always been fascinated with Jackie Kennedy Onassis. It could be contributed to the tragedy of her first husband’s death, or it could be just the mystery that has always surrounded her. As young girls we look for women we would love to emulate. Each generation has its idol. Jackie’s has spanned many generations. Her poise, her beauty, her elegance, and her sorrow have called to so many.
The problem is that like those in the 60s that watched her, subsequent generations placed her on a pedestal. We saw her as beautiful, tragic, and perfect. Yet, like any human being who walked this planet, she was far from perfect.
Ms. Bond lets Jackie tell her own life story of privilege and heartbreak. Instead of being on a pedestal, Jackie sits down beside you as you read of a girl that could have been you. How many could say that they never could please their mother? How many could say that they were emotionally destroyed when their parents divorced? Many women can read Jackie O: On the Couch and find themselves in her. The topics of her womanizing father, cold mother, jealous sister, low self-esteem, love of a man who abused her and loved her, womanizing husbands, brief affairs, and the tragedy of widowhood are laid bare before the reader. You get a glimpse into a woman who feels that she is less than adequate or her husband would love her, cherish her, and not flaunt his mistresses under her very nose. You see a girl inside a woman’s body who only wanted to feel secure but found herself forced into a mold that did not fit her.
I found myself leaning toward this fictional Jackie on my couch as I connected with her at times. Other times, I felt anger and the desire to defend her. Then I would feel disappointment to see her be human and make mistakes. Quickly, I would love her for her wit and pride. When I got to the chapter on John F. Kennedy’s assassination, I found myself unable to read as the tears overflowed my eyes and would not stop. Her description of holding him and the pain that ripped through her echoed in me. I tend to get emotional when I read, but this is probably the most I’ve cried in reading a book.
A few facts seem to be mixed up but overall the historical parts are done very well. The reader has to keep in mind that this is a work of fiction. This is not Jackie actually talking to us. This is a “what-if” book. Many people don’t like these kinds of writings, but for others it is a way to step out of the “norm” and look at things in a different light. If you read this book and just develop a desire to learn more, then it did a good job. If you are looking for a history book or a biography, then you will be disappointed. This is a wonderful example of an author using creativity to explore an historical figure and to stimulate conversation. Do not approach this book as a biography, autobiography, or historical textbook. It is a fiction book used to help the reader view Jackie in a different light.
The way Ms. Bond delivered the life of Jackie is beyond words. It is something you can only feel and experience. You have to sit down on the couch and let Jackie open her soul.
If you want to get a new perspective on Jackie Kennedy Onassis and those in her life, this is the book to read. It is remarkably done and will have you glad you bought it. Ms. Bond has delivered in Jackie O: On the Couch a piece of literary art that even Jackie would have applauded.
Note: This book was given to me by the publisher upon my request.