cover image Jacqueline Bouvier: An Intimate Memoir

Jacqueline Bouvier: An Intimate Memoir

Harold Davis, John H. Davis. John Wiley & Sons, $32.5 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-471-12945-5

Memoirs written by relatives of the rich and famous often try to settle scores or exploit distant ties. Not so that of Davis, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's first cousin, who has written several books on famed clans (The Guggenheims) and on his relatives by marriage (The Kennedys), as well as on his own folk (The Bouviers). Davis's mother, now 90, is Maude Bouvier, Jacqueline's aunt. Here he focuses on Jacqueline's (he never calls her Jackie) childhood and adolescence and concludes with her marriage to John F. Kennedy. He writes from the point of view of a contemporary who shared summers at Grampy Jack Bouvier's magnificent East Hampton estate. Davis watched Jacqueline as she grew into an accomplished rider and a charming, self-contained young woman. He also watched as her parents, ""Black"" Jack Bouvier and Janet Lee Bouvier, fought viciously for her attention and affection. They eventually divorced, and Jacqueline's father spent much of his life trying--unsuccessfully--to keep Jacqueline away from his former wife after she married into the wealthy Auchincloss family. Davis's probing into family sorrows is gentle. This was a world where the children ran wild but dressed for dinner, where anything could be charged to Grampy Jack at the clubs and stores but where financial difficulties lurked beneath the idyllic surface. Unlike so many books about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, this one actually adds to our understanding and appreciation of the woman she became. Photos. (Sept.)