Oline EatonJan 24, 2023
The Second Act of America's First Lady
Diversion Books 2023
In her new book, Finding Jackie: A Life Reinvented (Diversion Books, 2023), scholar and writer Oline Eaton examines the story of an era's biggest "star of life," Jaqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, as she coped with trauma and built a new existence in an unstable world during the time between JFK's murder in 1963 and the death of her second husband, Aristotle Onassis, in 1975. Jackie Kennedy was universally loved and to this day is still remembered as dignified, classy, a superior wife, mother, decorator, and hostess. But what story lies beneath that of the former First Lady? What is the true tale of the woman who later wore leather miniskirts, grew her hair long, and married infamous Greek shipping tycoon Ari Onassis?
Eaton charts the taboo and often dismissed story of Jackie, the life of a woman reinventing herself time and time again. In Finding Jackie, she follows the "star of life" through her tragedies and triumphs with all the urgency and uncertainty she faced. Revealed is the Jackie the world has never seen, the Jackie who climbed pyramids, held fascinating jobs, lived abroad, married a scandalous man, saw a sex movie with him in a theater, and then judo-flipped a photographer on her way out. She frolicked braless and barefoot in Capri. She saved Grand Central. She stepped outside the rarefied world she'd been born into and exemplified the cultural changes of the 1960s and 70s. With newly released archival evidence, Finding Jackie illuminates the disconnect between the public story and what is now known of Jackie Kennedy Onassis' actual private life. Jackie has long been celebrated for her style rather than her substance but, when set in its full historical context, her story resonates today.
Rebekah Buchanan is a Professor of English and Director of English Education at Western Illinois University. Her research focuses on feminism, activism, and literacy practices in youth culture, specifically through zines and music.