Jackie O: On the Couch: A Book Review

Inside the Mind and Life of Jackie Kennedy Onassis by Alma H. Bond, PhD

The Fascination with Jackie O

Jackie O on the Couch

“Jackie O On The Couch” by Dr. Alma H. Bond

There have been dozens of books about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The fascination with her has not ceased even though it has been more two decades since her death. Jackie O. On The Couch is one of those rare delicacies that walks the fine line between fiction (written in the first person) and fact – seriously researched. Done with a gentle humor and the classy style that one expects of its subject, it is a hard book to put down. Dr. Alma Bond does a masterful job of arranging her chapters in a sort-of chronology, but mainly in a series of relationships. It is as if Mrs. K-O were really talking to us – and she is a delight to hear.

There is an old saying that “where love is impossible, money is indispensable.” Put into context with Jackie Kennedy Onassis, that says it all. In twenty brief chapters, Jackie O. manages to present that poor little rich girl image she never stopped portraying: A flamboyant absentee father, a strict, cold absentee mother, a competitive and envious sister, a philandering husband in John F. Kennedy – scratch that to husbands and include Aristotle Onassis, a variety of in-laws who disliked her, and a paparazzi that hounded her. She claims to have loved both her husbands.  Maybe, maybe not. It seems that love was never returned.

Jackie O: A Class Act

Jackie O. was the supreme touch-me-not.  The epitome of classiness and style.  The American Queen.  Everything she wore was copied, and she wore only the best. She presented culture in an era where culture was dying. Dr. Bond devotes considerable space to Jackie’s sincere love of the arts, whether opera, theatre, poetry, ballet or visual arts. She also makes note of the fact that none of her relationships – including her relatives – shared those interests, until her last romance at the end of her life.

Most of the book is devoted to her marriage to John F. Kennedy and the Kennedy family. She includes courtship, early marriage, the White House years, and the assassination. It is what one might expect. In commenting on her televised program of the newly redecorated White House, author Norman Mailer is quoted as saying that Jackie Kennedy “moved like a wooden horse and sounded like an aspiring but totally untalented actress.” She didn’t like the comment, but it was (if anyone has ever seen the production) spot-on. The content and decor were wonderful, but she was indeed wooden, with a little girl voice. She would always prefer to be photographed rather than phonographed.

Jackie O: A Cool Lady

Dr. Bond is a psychoanalyst with many years of experience, both in her discipline and as an author. In 260-pages, Dr. Bond does her best to warm up that quintessential touch-me-not, but Jackie O. is still elusive. The author does not hesitate to present some of her bad qualities – a shopping habit that leaves Mary Lincoln in the dust, often done from spite. She does not hesitate to enter into romantic relationships with already-married men, and seems perfectly content in the betrayal mode. After all, it had been done to her routinely. That she never seemed to have real friends is evident. Social friends, pleasant acquaintances – but no close intimates.

The one relationship that seems to be missing in the book is Jackie O’s relationship with the American people. It appears they all related to her, but she preferred her ivory tower isolation to the hoi polloi. She refers to Jack Kennedy’s meat-and-potato preference and Onassis’ penchant for sausage and beer with obvious disdain. Even though she was happy to stand in line waiting for her turn at the copier at Doubleday in her bid for “hey, I am one of you,” nobody believed that for a minute.  She was unreachable.

She is famously quoted as not “wanting to freeze to death” on her pedestal, but she was always on that pedestal, and it was her own choosing. Like a Faberge egg, she is always beautifully crafted and decorated with the finest of everything. Unlike the Faberge egg, there is no surprise inside.

But Jackie O: On the Couch is not on a pedestal. It is a delight! It is readable! It is can’t-put-downable! Whether you like Mrs. K-O or not, this book is a winner and thoroughly enjoyable!

  • Jackie O: On the Couch
  • Alma H. Bond, PhD
  • Bancroft Press: ISBN 978-1-61088-021-3
  • Available hard and soft cover

About Feather Schwartz Foster

Feather Schwartz Foster is an author-historian who has made more than 500 appearances discussing presidential history. She teaches adult education at the Christopher Wren Association (affiliated with William and; Mary College), and adult Education programs at Christopher Newport University. She has been a guest on the C-SPAN "First Ladies" program. She has written five books.
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2 Responses to Jackie O: On the Couch: A Book Review

  1. energywriter says:

    Thanks for the heads up. I’ll look for it. sd

  2. Mimi says:

    Looking forward to reading it.

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