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And They Called It Camelot: A Novel of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis by [Stephanie Marie Thornton]

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And They Called It Camelot: A Novel of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 1,373 ratings

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A USA Today Bestseller!

"And They Called It Camelot
is the book club pick of the year. Stephanie Marie Thornton brings an American icon to life: Jackie the debutante, the First Lady, the survivor who at last becomes the heroine of her own story." Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Huntress, on And They Called It Camelot

“An extraordinary profile of the courage and grace of the indomitable Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis,
And They Called it Camelot is impeccably researched and richly drawn. Thornton celebrates the former First Lady’s life in a sweeping account filled with poignant intimacy. Readers are instantly transported to Jackie’s version of Camelot as they immerse themselves in the fascinating and tumultuous history of the times. An unputdownable, unforgettable read.”—Chanel Cleeton, New York Times bestselling author of Next Year in Havana, on And They Called It Camelot

 “Addictive, dishy, and emotionally haunting, this novel paints an intimate portrait of a tumultuous marriage that played out on the world's stage and ended in national tragedy.  Loving and losing one of history's most charismatic American presidents marks Jaqueline Kennedy's life ever after, but oh, how she rises up from the ashes. Vivid, engrossing, and utterly unforgettable,
And They Called It Camelot is Thornton's best work yet.”Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling coauthor of America's First Daughter, on And They Called It Camelot

“Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis leaves an enduring (and intimidating) legacy; for a writer, finding something new and meaningful to say about her is a daunting task. Thornton harnesses her immense talent for historical fiction and combines it with a biographer's immersive research to create a rich portrait that is both intimate and thoughtful while also wildly addictive. I tore through these pages and you will too. Thornton gifts her readers with a fresh appreciation for the indomitable woman behind the iconic sunglasses.” —Steven Rowley, author of The Editor, on And They Called It Camelot

"Stephanie Thornton has compellingly and sympathetically humanized an American icon. Well researched and beautifully written,
And They Called It Camelot is compulsively readable historical fiction!" —Laura Kamoie, New York Times Bestselling Coauthor of My Dear Hamilton, on And They Called It Camelot

"In her rich, fascinating account of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis’ life, author Stephanie Marie Thornton effortlessly transports us back in time….A powerful and uplifting portrayal.”
—Woman’s World, on And They Called It Camelot

“Thornton captures a celebrity with whom the world mourned in November 1963, but her down-to-earth approach has given us the opportunity for a more intimate and less sensational look at Jackie, the wife and mother. Highly recommended.”
—Historical Novel Society

“Even if you think you know the story of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, you’re in for rare behind-the-scenes look at the former First Lady’s life.  Stephanie Thornton has channeled this iconic woman and delivers such an intimate portrait, at times I had to remind myself that this is a novel and not Kennedy’s own memoir. Such an ambitious undertaking and Thornton not only pulls it off, she hits it out of the park. This book is nothing short of magical.”—
Renee Rosen, Author of Park Avenue Summer, on And They Called It Camelot

“This book grabbed me from page one and wouldn’t let me go. A multi-dimensional imagining of the trials and triumphs of Jaqueline Bouvier Kennedy,
And They Called It Camelot will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about this remarkable First Lady. Full of glamour, scandal, and heartache, this is a novel you will want to discuss with all of your friends.”—Kerri Maher, Author of The Girl in White Gloves, on And They Called It Camelot

“Students of history will appreciate Thornton’s exacting research and convincing portrayal of the first lady and style icon, and Kennedy aficionados will feel as if they have an unparalleled access to Camelot. Thornton’s magnificent portrayal of Onassis will delight fans of Kennedy-related fiction.”—
Publishers Weekly(Starred Review), on And They Called It Camelot

And They Called It Camelot is a sumptuous, propulsive, scandal-filled peek behind the curtain of American royalty. Thornton gives the reader a fascinating look at the masks worn by those who live in the public life. One might not agree with all of Jackie’s choices, but the force of her instinct for survival cannot be denied.” —Erika Robuck, National bestselling author of Hemingway’s Girl, on And They Called It Camelot

“Her Jackie steps out of the pages a convincing, three-dimensional character, complete with contradictions and self-doubt. It’s like reading her private diary – witty, warm and full of color. The shining heart of the novel is her love for (and frustration with) Jack, who is described as a golden figure, so sexy any of us would swoon at his feet. Their attraction is tangible and sizzling hot. All the way through, Stephanie’s writing is vivid, with lots of memorable images (like those lemon-lipped Rah-Rah Sisters!). I’m going to have to go back and read it all again in a few weeks.” —
Gill Paul, Author of The Lost Daughter, on And They Called It Camelot

“Lush, smart, and sumptuously elegant, Stephanie Marie Thornton’s
And They Called It Camelot captures Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy’s life in all its many complexities, drawing back the curtain on a legend to reveal the all-too-human woman beneath. A beautiful portrait of an American icon.”—Bryn Turnbull, Author of The Woman Before Wallis, on And They Called It Camelot
And They Called It Camelot, by Stephanie Marie Thornton, is simply spellbinding. This intimate story of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis portrays a woman finding her way in a landscape dominated by men, and, with grace and astounding resilience, forging an identity the world will never forget. A tale of love and devastation, greatness and sacrifice, this remarkable novel will grip readers until the last page.”—Kristin Beck, Author of Courage, My Love, on And They Called It Camelot

"Readers will enjoy this heartbreaking story of a wife’s fierce pride and loyalty to her president and country, despite years of marital loneliness and loss."
Library Journal, on And They Called It Camelot

“Thornton brings Jackie’s compelling voice to life.”
BookTrib, on And They Called It Camelot

“Tackling a larger-than-life person such as Jackie Kennedy is a daunting undertaking, and Stephanie Marie Thornton handles that challenge splendidly. Thornton’s decision to have Jackie narrate her own story lends an intimate feel to the tale…a fascinating and personal portrait of one of America’s most iconic women."—Bookreporter, on And They Called It Camelot

Praise for American Princess

“As juicy and enlightening as a page in Meghan Markle's diary.”—

“A rare behind-the-scenes tale of a spunky woman who relies on her independent spirit to face down each challenge with courage and grace.”Woman's World

“Readers who enjoy sweeping family sagas will devour this novel with its feisty protagonist and host of well-known historical figures. It comes highly recommended.”Historical Novel Reviews

“The wild, wonderful, outsize personality of presidential daughter Alice Roosevelt is on full and fantastic display in this lightly fictionalized take on her unapologetic, unconventional life….Alice herself would undoubtedly have loved this take on her unorthodox life—as will the many destined to read it.”—
Publishers Weekly

“An absorbing portrait of a woman who lived life on her own terms.”—

“Readers will be enthralled by Alice’s wit and Thornton expertly weaves the events of her life.”—Library Journal

--This text refers to the paperback edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


January 1952

The market seems to be recovering from its recent drop." John--my fiancé, although the word was still too slippery to make sense of-stood on the curb, oblivious to the bustle of people retrieving luggage from the trunks of yellow taxis and tail-finned Cadillacs. He wore his omnipresent gray flannel work suit, fingers twitching as if hovering over a calculating machine. "I really think the railroad division is going to carry the rest of the market, and American Telephone and Telegraph has been performing well in recent weeks too."

"You don't say?" I tried to summon a single iota of interest to recapture how endearing his stock market talk had been on Christmas Eve when we admired a shop window on Madison Avenue, how the crisp pennants of our breath in the cold air had mingled together before he'd asked me to marry him.

I'd invited John to Merrywood, my stepfather Hughdie's second estate outside Washington, DC, the better to convince my harridan of a mother--and me, if I was being honest--that I'd made the right decision. Instead, John spent most of the weekend debating Wall Street investments with my stepfather while I'd retreated unnoticed to the oak-paneled study. Normally the room's rich scent of antiquarian books and Oriental carpets and tobacco was the one place I could truly relax in this home that wasn't really mine, but I verily twitched with annoyance as I flipped the pages of Sybil, a novel written by Hughdie's cousin about a spirited woman who resigned herself into the necessity of marriage and thus settled into being a vegetable wife.

She became humdrum and boring, like broccoli.

I hated broccoli.

"That's it," I'd announced to my younger sister Lee--who had been christened Caroline, although no one ever called her that--as I slammed shut the book. "If I marry John, I'll become one of those dull country club wives who can only converse about the progress of their children's teeth. My entire future will be spent as Sybil Husted."

Lee had recently snagged a position as an editor's assistant at Harper's Bazaar and scarcely glanced up from the magazine's latest issue, its cover touting resort fashions with a breezy blonde whose legs stretched for five miles beneath her cotton shorts. "I thought you'd be Jacqueline Husted," she mused, waving a hand with fingernails bitten to the quick, "but I suppose you can change your first name, too, if you'd like. Very bohemian."

Jacqueline Husted.

Not for the first time, I worried that in marrying steady, number-crunching John Grinnel Wetmore Husted Jr., I'd be not so much settling down as settling. Not because he wasn't the gloriously wealthy New England husband my mother envisioned for me (even if his family was listed in the Social Register), and not because marrying him might mean bidding au revoir to trips to Paris, fox hunts with my New England friends, and my passion for journalism. But because before I'd met John, I'd been prepping Givenchy models for a shoot on the banks of the Seine--part of my short-lived stint for an internship I'd won at Vogue--and my stern-faced editor had warned me that, at twenty-two, I was teetering on the precipice of spinsterhood's fatal abyss, and I'd felt a chill go through me.

I didn't want to marry any of the young men I'd grown up with, not because of them but because of their sedate lives. Still, had I accepted John's proposal for fear that I'd be left on the shelf?

I scoffed, for surely I wasn't so mundane. Was I?

I'd paced Merrywood's opulent study, ready to climb the walls as my fingers drifted over the beloved leather-bound volumes that I'd read countless times--Oscar Wilde's
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Baudelaire's Les Épaves, Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, Hugo's Les Misérables. I'd cringed when my tall, supposedly urbane fiancé admitted to scarcely recognizing the first-edition titles on the mahogany shelves, preferring his stock columns and account books instead.

I loved books and words more than my horses; could scarcely imagine a life devoid of stories and drama. My heroes were Mowgli, Robin Hood, Little Lord Fauntleroy's grandfather, Scarlett O'Hara. . . .

Not Sybil Husted.

Now, with the last of winter's icy cold seeping through my wool jacket, John retrieved his newly purchased suitcase from the trunk of my blue Chevrolet Fleetmaster and pressed a dry kiss to my forehead. "In fact, it looks like corporate bonds will remain steady-"


He blinked, my voice drawing him away from the elusive chimeras of stocks and bonds. It was perhaps a bit overdramatic to think it, but John might well be nattering on about American Telephone and Ford and General Electric ten, twenty years from now. "Yes, dear?"

Dear. It was so blasé, so tame. So John.

I recalled a different man I'd met once, who had made me feel so alive, as if everything under the golden summer sun was possible. I banished the thought, for that had been nothing.

There was no doubt that if I married John Husted, I'd live a languid, comfortable life for the rest of my days.

But I wanted more than comfort. I needed something--anything--more than this.

I pulled my hand back, tugged the sapphire-and-diamond sunburst ring from my finger and slipped it into his flannel pocket. "I'm sorry, John. I'm well and truly sorry."

He blinked. "I don't know what you mean. Sorry for what?"

I stepped back, needing to put space between us. "I'm afraid I can't marry you." From the way his expression fractured, I almost wished I could pluck the words from the air. Except that if I capitulated, ten years from now--or maybe even next year, or next month--I'd hate myself for it. And John would learn to hate me too.

"What do you mean, you can't marry me?"

"Exactly that. I wish I could, but I just-"

"Is it about the money?" He squared his shoulders. "Because you can tell your mother that seventeen thousand a year is a decent amount for a stockbroker."

I'd tried informing my aristocratic, chain-smoking mother of that already, but she'd only shaken her cigarette at me, sprinkling ash upon the Aubusson carpet as she paced and railed against my stupidity.

"No, it's not that-"

"Was it too fast?" John held the sparkling ring between his thumb and forefinger, his handsome face turning a splotchy shade of red. "You said you liked spontaneity, but I ruined it, didn't I?"

I drew a deep breath. "It's none of that, John. You and I are too different to be a good fit," I said because I owed him my honesty. "You deserve a woman who can make you far happier than I ever will."

And I deserved someone who could talk about something besides corporate stocks and bull markets.

I didn't wait for a response, only hesitated long enough to touch his cheek. "Good-bye, John. I'm really very sorry."

I didn't look back when I fled to the driver's side of my Chevrolet, instead slammed the door behind me and shifted into drive, intent on returning to Merrywood, where I planned to stay up until dawn reading a biography on Louis XIV to avoid thinking about what I'd just done.

All I want is a man with a little imagination. Is that too much to ask?

I was already twenty-two--a leftover daughter who couldn't live off her stepfather's generous goodwill and fifty-dollar-per-month allowance forever--and at twenty-five, society would deem me spoiled goods. It was no use railing against the firm rule that well-bred girls must make a good marriage if they wanted to continue living their lives. I was willing to play the game, but only on my terms.

Jacqueline Bouvier, I thought to myself as John shrunk away in the rearview mirror. You narrowly escaped making the biggest mistake of your life.

Or had I in fact just doomed myself?


I adjusted my white evening gloves, glanced up at the imposing Georgetown mansion, and repressed a thin shudder.

Another dinner party.

Every bit of me screamed to retreat the way I'd come, to shuck off the black peep-toe heels I'd borrowed from Lee (that were a size too small), and hightail it home before the last golden drops of May sunshine dissipated into hazy twilight. I'd tried to beg off from tonight's dinner after Charley Bartlett informed me there was a friend he wanted me to meet. Following my broken engagement, it seemed every Jack and Jill now had a friend, cousin, or neighbor they needed to introduce me to.

I was no fool. This was an ambush.

To make matters worse, Lee had recently proposed to Michael Canfield, a handsome Harvard-educated veteran of Iwo Jima, which made it impossible to ignore that while my sister was seizing each day by its throat, I was merely treading water. It was perhaps the first time she'd bested me at anything--save the time as girls when I'd hit her with a croquet mallet and she'd retaliated by pushing me down the stairs--and I didn't care for the feeling.

I ran a hand over my newly cropped hair-it was some small consolation that my mother no longer cracked three raw eggs over my head to rub the yolks into my long curls each night-before drawing a steadying breath and ringing the bell.

Afternoon teas, dinner parties, and then what? I thought as footsteps approached from inside. What are you going to do with your life, Jacqueline Bouvier?

I banished the question to the deepest, darkest corner of my mind. I'd worry about that later. Namely when I wasn't about to be enfiladed by Charley's stuttering, stamp-collecting cousin or his recently widowed former college roommate.

"Jackie, darling!" Spectacled and buttoned-down Charley enveloped me in a stifling hug before helping me shrug off my coat. "So glad you could make it!"

"I wouldn't miss one of your dinners for the world." I smiled despite myself, for as my journalistic consigliere, Charley had gifted me with late-night writing advice before several of my deadlines for my new position at the Washington Times-Herald. That had been my answer to the chasm of spinsterhood yawning before me, to get a job, and while I loved the work--and its twenty-five-dollar-a-week paycheck--I worried it wasn't enough.

Charley let me kiss both his cheeks, a habit I'd picked up while in school at the Sorbonne. Then in his rapid-fire mumble, "I have someone I want you to meet."

Just like his editorials, I thought. Straight for the jugular.

Charley raised an arm and gestured into the crowded living room. "Jack! Over here."

The room's sudden electricity raised the hair on the back of my neck as a tanned man with a mop of sandy-brown hair and a smile more powerful than an atomic bomb blast returned the wave. He wended his way toward us, looking as if he might have strolled straight off a Hollywood movie set.

Dear God, I thought, unable to stop myself from biting my lip. It's him.

He looked just as he had a year ago, except he'd traded his tuxedo for tonight's black evening suit with brown shoes. But even that sartorial mishap was endearing as I admired how well his shoulders filled out his dinner jacket and the way his smile crinkled the corners of his eyes in a most attractive way.

I wondered if he remembered that other dinner party from long ago.

Charley introduced us, beaming like a proud papa. "Jacqueline Bouvier, meet Congressman John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Although he's about to trade up and become Senator Kennedy."

One of the Hyannis Port Kennedys, I imagined my mother whispering in my ear. Staunchly Catholic. Politically aggressive. More ill-gotten money than the Rockefellers.

"My friends call me Jack," he said by way of greeting. His voice was unique but not unpleasant, the Bostonian accent so thick that his r's all but disappeared. He held out his hand and I shook it, surprised when he didn't give it the usual dead-fish treatment most men did, as if worried they might break poor, delicate little me. There was power there, and confidence too, so much that I couldn't help the grin that spread across my face, despite the fact that Jack gave no indication that he remembered me.

And why would he? He's Jack Kennedy, who just dethroned Rock Hudson for the title of America's Most Eligible Bachelor. You're just Jackie Bouvier.

That meant I had nothing to lose.

Toy a little while with the debonair congressman who acted last time as if he walked on water. See if that gets his attention.

"Are you the John F. Kennedy?" I asked as Charley disappeared on cue, leaving just Jack and me. "The same one who gets mistaken for a House page and recently addressed the floor of the House with his shirt untucked?" My grin deepened when Jack arched an eyebrow at me. "I read the article about you in the Saturday Evening Post. 'The Senate's Gay Young Bachelor,' wasn't it?"

And the Post was right: Jack Kennedy did have the innocently respectful face of an altar boy at High Mass. Although the wicked spark in his stormy Irish eyes would have sent many an altar boy to confession.

"That depends. Are you the Jackie Bouvier, who I once asked out for drinks, only to discover I was already the third wheel?"

A ripple of some foreign pleasure passed over my skin at the sound of him saying my name. I much preferred the French pronunciation of Jacqueline--Jack-leen--to plain old American Jackie, but Jack could call me Gertrude or Hortense for all I cared. "So you do remember."
--This text refers to the paperback edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07T4ZTRCQ
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Berkley (March 10 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 5143 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 479 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 1,373 ratings

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Stephanie Thornton is a writer and history teacher who has been obsessed with women from history since she was twelve. She is the author of seven novels and lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska. Visit her website at

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4.4 out of 5 stars
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