A novelist named James is thrilled when his book The Quarantine, a loosely veiled tale about his relationship with his mother, gets picked up by a major publisher. He is even more thrilled when he discovers that his editor is none other than Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who becomes a muse and confidante in the few years before her death.
While diving deeply into questions of identity, loyalty, and absolution within the bonds of family, Rowley...soars to satisfying heights in this deeply sensitive depiction of the symbiotic relationships at the heart of every good professional, and personal, partnership.
Rowley...gets Jackie exactly right: She has all the expected savoir faire (she keeps supplies for making daiquiris in her office) but doesn’t present as a caricature. This introduces a wee problem: Jackie is so charismatic in The Editor that we miss her when she’s not in a scene, and the rueful Aileen just can’t pick up the slack. Fortunately, it’s a pleasure to be in narrator James’s constant company; his ready self-deprecation and congenial persnicketiness...are winning ... James’s crisis with his boyfriend feels manufactured, and there’s a bit too much talk of 'healing' ... 'SHOW, DON’T TELL!' Jackie might have written in the margins. Still, there’s something marvelously authentic-seeming about James’s and Jackie’s conversations, especially when they touch on commonalities among mothers of a certain generation—even mothers as different as Jackie and Aileen.
The premise is interesting ... Readers may find their interest waning as the aspiring novelist—James—dutifully follows his impressive editor’s request to reconnect with his mother. They will also have to wait until the Acknowledgments at this book’s end to find out if what they have read is, indeed, the Onassis-nurtured work. But those who fondly recall the days of Camelot in the White House may enjoy it.