For when France seems too far away. Shop for inspiring images of France and discover travel tips, packing advice, recipes, book reviews and more.
For when France seems too far away. Shop for inspiring images of France and discover travel tips, packing advice, recipes, book reviews and more.

Jacqueline in Paris – A Book Review

Winter in Paris Jacqueline in Paris

I am a big reader. I always have been. From my earliest days, I’ve loved books. As a result, our house is full of books. My devices are full of books. And I honestly can’t imagine my life without reading at least a few pages of a book every single day.

These days, I mostly read non-fiction. These books are generally coaching related. I read the latest offerings on topics like leadership, self-belief and boundaries so I can better support my coaching clients. 

But when I have space, I do love to lose myself in some fiction or a memoir. And you won’t be surprised to learn that anything French related tends to find itself at the top of my reading list. 

I’ve talked before about the ridiculously large amount of time it takes to get from Melbourne, Australia to Europe. And there will always be one leg that is at least 10 hours. Which provides ample space for reading, if that’s what you like to do. 

Interestingly, on our recent flights into France, I didn’t find myself reading much at all. But by the time we were flying home, I was relaxed and ready to be diving into something new. Instagram is great for sourcing new books. And, luckily on the day I went looking for some inspiration Katrina Lawrence, the author of Paris Dreaming,  happened to mention how much she was enjoying Jacqueline in Paris – A Novel.

It just so happened that well known author Ann Mah had just released her latest book Jacqueline in Paris – A Novel. The book centres around the year that Jacqueline Bouvier, later Jacqueline Kennedy, spent studying in Paris. The approach blends ‘real life’ characters into a work of fiction. And I enjoyed the book so much that I read it from start to finish in the space of one (long) flight.

Title: ’Jacqueline in Paris. A Novel.

Author: Ann Mah.

Published: 2022 by Mariner Books, Ebook,  352 pages (if you buy the print version).

What I Liked:

  • The subject matter. I love anything related to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, so it was always highly likely that I’d be taken in by this book. But even if you’re not as big a fan as I am, there’s something magnetic about a young, but already enigmatic icon exploring post-war Paris. Then you have the glimpses into the joys, hardships and grief of the time. And once you add the tastes of high society and insights into the political landscape, Jacqueline in Paris offers something for everyone. 
  • Ann Mah’s beautiful writing style. I find Ann’s words elegantly simple – there’s nothing fussy in the writing. And yet, your imagination is encouraged to soar while you remain anchored to the historical background of Paris in 1949 and 1950.
  • The fact that Jacqueline in Paris revolves around the seasons. For me, every Parisian experience is underpinned by the season you travel in. The city changes as the seasons change. By breaking Jacqueline’s year abroad into seasons, I almost felt like I was there in the story. This was especially true during the pages dedicated to winter. Parisians were still living in very austere conditions at the time the novel is set, and I could feel the cold as I read the words.
  • The inspiration to continue with my own French studies. Anyone who has been around here for any length of time knows that I studied the French language for years. When Alisa, my teacher and mentor passed away, I realised I needed to take a break…and I’ve been on that break for a while now. While I never considered myself very good at French, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I remembered on our recent trip. Couple that with learning about the French studies that Jacqueline and her fellow classmates undertook has left me toying with the idea of returning to French lessons.

What I Wasn’t So Sure About:

  • The words ‘A Novel’. When I first read about the book, I had some real misgivings about the mix of reality and fiction. How can you write a novel about one of the most famous women of the last century? This question played on my mind for about a quarter of the book, until I decided to skip forward to the author’s note. In it Ann Mah explains how and why she went about her storytelling. And from that point I was completely hooked. I won’t spoil things for you by sharing it here, but it’s safe to say that I loved both the concept and the approach. For me, understanding the blend of fact and fiction helped to ensure that I didn’t put the book down until I’d read every word. 

Have you read Jacqueline in Paris? Did you enjoy the mix of reality and fiction? I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

And until next time – au revoir.

This is an unsolicited post. No compensation of any kind has been received from the author, publisher or parties connected with Jacqueline in Paris. The links in this post do not generate commission.


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