Friday, January 12, 2024

Audio Book Review: Jackie: Public, Private, Secret by J. Randy Taraborrelli

Genre: Non-Fiction/Biography
Pub. Date: July 18, 2023
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Source: Library
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "From the New York Times bestselling author of Jackie, Janet & Lee comes a fresh and often startling look at the life of the legendary former first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Based on hundreds of interviews with friends, family, and lovers over a thirty-year period―as well as previously unreleased material from the JFK Library―Kennedy historian J. Randy Taraborrelli paints an unforgettable new portrait of a woman whose flaws and contradictions only serve to make her even more iconic. “I have three lives,” Jackie told a former lover, “public, private and secret.” In this revealing biography, readers will become intimately familiar with all three. New insights from the book  · Jackie’s cold feet before her wedding to Jack Kennedy and her secret plan to avoid moving into the White House with him. · Jackie's plan to meet with the woman with whom her husband, Aristotle Onassis, was again having an affair, Maria Callas…and why, in the end, she decided against it. · The truth about the nude photos of Jackie which scandalized her in the 1970s…and which family member had betrayed her by selling them. · Her unusual relationship with Maurice Templesman, which was never what outsiders believed it to be. · The never-before-reported, last-ditch efforts to save Jackie’s life with experimental cancer treatments, and the doctor who wouldn’t risk jail time in order to treat her.n Twenty-nine years after her death and sixty years after the assassination of President Kennedy, Jackie delivers the last word on one of the most famous women in the world."

Jackie Kennedy Onassis has been covered countless times, but this extensive biography sheds some light on topics that haven't recently been covered due to Taraborrelli's extensive research for twenty-five years. The biography isn't told chronically, but instead, it feels like interconnected vignettes that form a beautiful picture once all the pieces of the puzzle come together. Taraborrelli covers Jackie's young adult life and provides some insight into her relationship with her father, Jack Bouvier, as well as her overbearing mother, Janet Bouvier Auchincloss. It also highlights her relationship with her stepfather, Hugh Auchincloss, and their special bond. The undercurrent of competition with her sister Lee is always there and highlighted throughout the biography. What readers would expect the author to cover, such as her marriage to John F. Kennedy, her relationship with the Kennedy clan, the assassination of JFK, and her marriage to Aristotle Onassis is all there. Taraborrelli fills in the blanks by providing details of her time between the marriages, such as her projects, her lovers, and her many issues with feeling safe and secure. What Taraborrelli covers very well in Jackie: Public, Private, Secret is the time after Aristotle Onanssis's death as I think many biographies gloss over this period. The author does a deep dive into how Jackie rebuilt her life, entered the publishing world, her editorial work, and her relationship with Maurice Templesman. Sadly, the story ends with her cancer diagnosis as well as upsetting events within her family, but once again Taraborrelli sheds some light on the experimental cancer treatment that Jackie wanted but never had the chance to try it. This was new information to me and utterly heartbreaking! Any fan of Jackie or the Kennedy family should definitely check out Jackie: Public, Private, Secret as it's one of my favorite biographies of such an important icon in history.


Much of the details in Jackie: Public, Private, Secret I was familiar with regarding the first half of her life, but the last half is when Taraborrelli really pulls back the curtain. Readers will learn a lot of details surrounding the end of her marriage to Onassis and her rebirth as a working woman. It was truly captivating. Sadly enough, it wasn't just Jackie's cancer diagnosis that was heartbreaking towards the end of her life, but other family members suffered greatly too, such as Jackie's mom and her stepsister, Janet Jr. I didn't know the details surrounding their deaths, but it left me brokenhearted. Once Jackie got out of that abyss of sadness, her health issues took a toll. It seemed so unfair, especially the details surrounding an experimental cancer treatment that she never got to try. 

One thing is for sure, Jackie: Public, Private, Secret is going down as one of my favorite biographies of such a captivating woman. Jane Oppenheimer narrated the audio book and I was hooked from the first line. If you enjoy the Kennedy family or simply want to learn more about a woman who lived such an unbelievable life, look no further. I am so glad I started the year off with this gem! Have you read Jackie: Public, Private, Secret? Are you a fan of the Kennedy family? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.



  1. I'm a Jackie Kennedy fan, so thank you for putting this on my radar! I do feel like most books focus on her JFK years, or at least that's what most people know her for, so to learn more about her later years is a nice change.

    1. I've read a lot of books about Jackie and this covered some of her years that I feel are lesser known. I hope you get to read it! Thanks for visiting, Angela!


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