REVIEW: The Summer I Met Jack by Michelle Gable

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Expected publication: May 29, 2018 by St. Martin’s Press

 

This is the first novel I’ve read from Michelle Gable. The first line of the book blurb:

 “New York Times bestselling author imagines the affair between JFK and Alicia Corning Clark – and the child they may have had.”

I was intrigued. The fact that this is based on the real-life romance between Jack Kennedy and Alicia Corning Clark is fascinating.

Alica Darr (formerly Barbara Kopczysnka), came to America in hopes of a better life. Before the war, Alicia was an upper-class citizen with a loving mother and father. Now she’s a “Displaced Person”, alone and hoping that she’ll be allowed to stay in America.

Alica meets a handsome and charismatic man at the movie theatre where she works. She feels an instant connection to him. It’s not just that he’s handsome, “there remained something special about him, something beautiful that had little to do with actual presentation” and he also “had one hell of a smile”.

And then he introduces himself…..“My name’s Jack. Jack Kennedy”

He was one of them. Her friend, Irenka had told many stories of this family…the mischief and the trouble they caused. “They stole cars, broke limbs, and swiped food off one another’s plates.” After some harmless flirting, he leaves….leaving Alicia both charmed and bewildered.

And so begins a romance like no other. But this isn’t just about Alicia and Jack. It’s also about the other aspects of Alicia’s life. A woman with many names whose life was full of fascinating experiences and people. From Massachusetts to Hollywood and Rome; she had friendships and relationships with many well-known people. People like Kirk Douglas, Marilyn Monroe, and Katherine Hepburn, just to name a few. And of course Jack…“ how can I love him so much when he gives me so little in return”. 

But Alicia also had secrets and lived in fear of many things. We learn about her engagements and marriages… and the tough choices she had to make.

This was such a unique read for me. I’ve always wondered about the Kennedy’s but knew very little about them. I was so curious about what was true, what wasn’t true….or even what was partially true. Was Rose Kennedy really a cold mother obsessed with her children’s weight, weighing them weekly? Did she run her family like a business? Was Joe really warm and loving to his children but so blatantly obvious about his extracurricular activities?

I was constantly running to my laptop to check things out. It was interesting looking at old pictures and articles online. I’ve honestly never Googled so much about a novel I was reading before. Even if some of what I read wasn’t true… it didn’t matter to me. I was learning things while enjoying a great story.

This is a story about a love affair, a fascinating woman, and a family that was said to be more connected than the mob and FBI and apparently more deceitful than both of them put together. This is not a biography, but it is based on real people and events. A book with a lot of true facts mixed with fiction in order to tell a story. And what a story it was! I can tell how much effort went into this novel and I appreciate it. What’s the full truth? We may never know for sure. But this sure was an interesting read.

I’d like to thank St.Martin’s Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

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