Critically acclaimed author Christopher Andersen is a master of celebrity biographies—boasting sixteen bestsellers, among them These Few Precious Days, Mick, and William and Kate. Now, in his latest thrilling book, new and untold details of the life and death of JFK Jr. come to light.
At the heart of The Good Son is the most important relationship in JFK Jr.’s life: that with his mother, the beautiful and mysterious Jackie Kennedy Onassis. Andersen explores his reactions to his mother’s post-Dallas suicidal depression and growing dependence on prescription drugs (as well as men); how Jackie felt about the women in her son’s life, from Madonna and Sarah Jessica Parker to Daryl Hannah and Carolyn Bessette, to his turbulent marriage; the plane crash the took his life; and the aftermath of shock, loss, grief, and confusion.
Offering new insights into the intense, tender, often stormy relationship between this iconic mother and son, The Good Son is a riveting, bittersweet biography for lovers of all things Kennedy.
The Good Son (Amazon US) (Amazon UK) (Audible) (AbeBooks)
I’ve read so much about the Kennedys, I wonder why I continue. After all, they’re only human and some of them have a tragic ending, yet at the same time, they’re a family of hope and dreams and unfinished expectations that draws you in. The Good Son is the first book I’ve seen where the relationship between Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and her son, John F. Kennedy, Jr., is explored.
Told in dual timelines, the majority of the book focuses on Jacqueline (I’ll never call her Jackie because she hated the shortening of her name just like I do) and how she got her kids out of the fishbowl that was Washington, D.C., after the assassination of her husband. Settling in New York City where she could blend in with the millions of residents there.
There have always been rumors that Jacqueline and her brother-in-law, Robert Kennedy had a passionate affair. Andersen contends that not only did they have a long-standing affair, she also stepped out with her other brother-in-law, Peter Lawford, star of stage and screen, one of Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack, and married to Jack’s sister Pat. I’ve read a lot about the Kennedys and this Lawford revelation was new to me.
I thought the section on Aristotle Onassis was new and different from what I’ve read before. Biographies about Jacqueline always seem to gloss over her marriage to the shipping tycoon, and I was glad to have their relationship fleshed out more than before. I’m sure there was a deep affection at first, but the relationship was doomed when Jacqueline insisted on spending so much time in New York, which led Onassis to take back up with opera star Maria Callas. Jacqueline’s coping mechanism was to shop since she had the means, and Onassis grew bitter at her profligate spending. When his son was killed in a crash, he blamed Jacqueline for bringing a curse upon his house.
This is also the point in the book where John is old enough to be featured, and I found his experiences interesting. I had read before, and it was reinforced, that Jacqueline wanted to keep her kids away from the Kennedy cousins as much as possible because they were wild and uncontrollable and bad influences. From what I’ve read, this is wholly true, and her hard work at keeping them in touch with the Kennedys while not sacrificing her principles for the kids was admirable. Whenever summer came around, she sent John on some sort of adventure instead of summers in Hyannis Port. I would have done the same.
Little was known about ADHD when John Kennedy, Jr. grew up, but he most assuredly had it. It explains so much about his personality like his trouble with a traditional school setting, and his seemingly endless risk-taking. He rode around New York City on his high-cost bikes, which were stolen with great frequency. He was even mugged in Central Park once.
Things really pick up for John Jr. once Jacqueline gets sick and dies, and much time was devoted to his work on George, the magazine that combined celebrity with politics, something for which Kennedy knew a lot about, and his love life. He dated everyone from Madonna to a long-term tempestuous relationship with actress Daryl Hannah. But it was Carolyn Bessette who stole his heart. She loved John, but it was clear she wasn’t equipped to handle the intense media scrutiny and had a hard time coping. There was talk of not wanting children born into the horrible fishbowl that was their life.
When JFK, Jr., and his plane with his wife and sister-in-law went missing, I actually thought for a while that they had escaped to a private island where they could live their life in peace, away from the paparazzi and endless digging into their lives. Then the plane was found, upside down in the water, all three of them still strapped in their seats. Everyone talks about what could have been with his dad, and now the same could be said of him.
The narrator was Robertson Dean, a very attractive actor who handled everything but female voices well. That was very irritating.
All in all I give this 4 stars. I learned some new things about the Kennedy family, and that’s rare. If you want to know more about some of the more elusive Kennedys, this book is a great introduction.
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