They Called It Camelot: Book Review

by | Jan 6, 2022 | Arts + Culture

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50,000+ books written on JFK, Jackie, and the Kennedys…is there anything left to say? With so much history still left to be explored, why anyone would write another book on anything Kennedy is beyond reason (except, for the fact the Kennedy story is a good sell)

2020’s release by Stephanie Marie Thornton proved me wrong. 

Her first-person historical fiction narrative of Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis’ life was a delicious read. Not to sound cliche, but it adds fresh color to the queen who transfixed the world. 

I expected a beach-ready vibe when I picked up And They Called It Camelot. A good gossipy more-or-less accurate novel you could forgive for its wash because, let’s face it, no one expects accuracy in a fictional Kennedy account. 

Instead? Thornton has released a narrative masterpiece that is not only binge worthy but obsessively based on detail. In her afterword, Thornton acknowledges the slight changes (and selections made in conflicting accounts) to keep the book flowing. And They Called It Camelot flies at a perfect pace even with the challenge of historical murk. 

Thornton’s Writing Style is Magic.

As a writer, Thornton is magic. Somehow she crams Jackie’s tumultuous larger-than-life world into a short softback book.

I love the narrative voice Thornton adopts for Jacqueline. Her true-life elegance and steady willpower displays itself in action. Meanwhile, Jackie’s inner thoughts on (both) her husband’s affairs betray the intimate conflict so many women face. It’s not just those living in the public eye juggling expectations and inner trauma when fairytales fall short. 

Thompson’s book is styled with french phrases, famous literature references, and intimate knowledge of political high-fashion. And They Called it Camelot reinforce Jackie’s enduring reputation as America’s Queen, and as a true renaissance woman. 

Two chapters from the end, my husband asked me where in Jackie Kennedy’s life I thought the book would leave off. I guessed the saving of New York’s Grand Terminal. 

Instead, the last two chapters polished the arc of Jackie’s adult life. It covers not only this feat but her many preservation efforts- including the opening of The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and her work cataloging, writing, and editing a book on Russian Imperial Culture. 


In the end, after a lifetime of enabling the dazzling dreams, conquests, and careers of men (Joseph Kennedy, JFK, and Bobby Kennedy), and leveraging her status for survival in her second marriage to Aristotle Onassis- Jackie triumphs by finding herself in her own accomplishments as a preservationist, a writer, and- above all- as a mother. 

This book is a must read- not just for fans of the Kennedy legacy- but for anyone that likes fast, juicy novels (The Unhoneymooners) and female characters who balance between the weight of power and human desire in an imperfect world (Circe). 

Interested in reading And They Called it Camelot? Buy a copy of the book here.