To Go: 88
11. Blue Monday — Nicci French
12. Mrs. Kennedy and Me — Clint Hill
I’ve always been fascinated with American history (perhaps even more so than Canadian history, which I’m sure is an abomination), specifically the Cold War period and the short-lived Kennedy administration. The Kennedy family itself has always been a source of interest for me: they’re one of America’s most prestigious, well-known and adored families, and also one of the country’s most tragic. They’ve suffered such public losses, sometimes one right after the other. JFK’s assassination, of course, is the first that springs to mind. But put in context, he was the third of Ambassador and Rose Kennedy’s children to die prematurely; his death followed his one-day-old son, Patrick’s, by months; and just five years later his brother Robert Kennedy died the same way.
If you’ve followed this blog long enough, you’ll remember that in my first challenge year, one of the last books I read was Stephen King’s 11/22/63, probably one of my top ten favourite reads of all time. It focused on JFK’s assassination from a different lens — what if it could be stopped — but the story was what first ignited my interest in the Kennedy family. So when I saw Mrs. Kennedy and Me in Chapters late last year, I knew that at one point or another I’d be reading it.
Mrs. Kennedy and Me traces Secret Service agent Clint Hill’s time as Jacqueline Kennedy’s personal body guard, from their mutually reluctant introduction after the 1960 election, to one year after JFK’s assassination, when Hill left Jacqueline’s security duty and returned to the White House, and she carried on with her life.
The affection that Hill had for Jacqueline Kennedy couldn’t be more clear, and he painted a vivid and sympathetic portrait of the woman who effortlessly captivated a nation. From his happier memories of Jackie, riding horses, travelling, and spending time with her family, to the devastating day in Dallas, when she refused to change out of her blood-stained clothes, to “let them see what they’ve done to Jack,” Hill remembers the former fist lady with compassion, care, and ultimately regret for the trauma he couldn’t save her from. Mrs. Kennedy and Me is a heartfelt biography of the intelligent, resilient, and fiercely private Jacqueline Kennedy, which left me with a profound sadness after I put it down. Quite simply, it’s a must-read.
Next book: The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. I’ve already started reading it, and it’s a total gem.
(P.S.: Can you believe this is only my 12th book? I’m so behind!)