cover image Jackie and Maria

Jackie and Maria

Gill Paul. Morrow, $16.99 trade paper (480p) ISBN 978-0-06-295249-3

Paul (The Lost Daughter) is at her best in this irresistible tale of the two complex and glamorous women closest to Greek billionaire Aristotle “Ari” Onassis. Opera diva Maria Callas began an affair with Onassis in 1958, which continued until 1968, the year former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy married Onassis. Paul chronicles major events in both women’s lives skillfully, whether it’s JFK’s assassination or Callas performing Aida at Italy’s legendary La Scala Opera House. Paul brings a humanizing touch to Jackie’s heartbreaks with JFK, including their stillborn daughter Arabella and their son Patrick, who lived two days after a premature birth in 1963, as well as to the story of Callas’s rumored son, Omero, named here by Ari after Homer, who dies shortly after his birth from lung failure (“She wanted to spend time with her little boy and memorize every inch of him before they took him away forever”). Paul shines in the small details about her larger-than-life characters, including the legendary soprano’s self-consciousness about her weight and subsequent dramatic weight loss, and Jacqueline Kennedy’s later life as a book editor. Paul’s pitch-perfect ear for dialogue, elegant prose, and sound plotting combine to create a sensational and spellbinding package. (Aug.)