One of Jacqueline Onassis’s authors dishes kindly on her impressive editorial record.
To be published less than one month after William Kuhn’s Reading Jackie (2010), this book fleshes out the editorial career of the enigmatic icon who was the subject of inflated tabloid coverage throughout much of her life yet who proved in her later years to be a surprisingly humble, hardworking team player, first at Viking, then Doubleday. Lawrence co-authored three titles for Onassis during her era at Doubleday, including her first bestseller, Dancing on My Grave (1986), written with his then-wife, ballet dancer Gelsey Kirkland. As one of her authors, Lawrence had unique access to Onassis, and he depicts how determined, tenacious and loyal she could be—especially as the book and was criticized for its “salacious material,” yet “generated a heartfelt response from dancers.” Onassis proudly “felt she got it right.” Unlike the thematic approach of Kuhn, who asserts that she revealed herself in the kinds of books she championed, Lawrence lets rip the first-person reminiscences from those who knew and worked with her, such as Viking publisher Thomas Guinzburg, who first hired her in 1975 and fell out with her over the acquisition of Jeffrey Archer’s controversial thriller Shall We Tell the President? (1977); her various assistants, who shielded her from the hounding of importunate callers and who gush about her work style; and various collaborators of her books (e.g., Louis Auchincloss, also her distant cousin) who were disarmed by her low-key, politely inquiring manner and ready wit. Indeed, nobody says a mean word about this former First Lady who did her job well, holding on at Doubleday despite the seismic corporate changes. Lawrence demonstrates how Onassis grew in confidence and professional stature in promoting books and authors she truly cared about.
Chatty without being vulgar, a deeply admiring portrait of a lady the world is just now getting to know.