Book Review: 'The Pink Suit'

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Nicole Mary Kelby. Little, Brown, 281 pp. $26

There have been so many books written about President John F. Kennedy, his wife Jacqueline, and their family. Last year I reviewed the memoir of Clint Hill, the Secret Service agent assigned to Jacqueline Kennedy during the presidency.

But in all of the books written about the Kennedy family, covering their life and presidential career from every angle, I don't think there's yet been a book quite like "The Pink Suit," by Nicole Mary Kelby.

"The Pink Suit," is a novel, a work of fiction, that looks at the Jacqueline Kennedy -- known primarily at the time as The Wife -- through the clothing she wore. It's no secret that Mrs. Kennedy was a trend-setter, and the most iconic ensemble she wore, the pink Chanel suit she fashioned on the day of her husband's assassination, is the central object of the book.

Much in the style of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," however, "The Pink Suit" tells the story through the eyes of someone else. Jay Gatsby was brought to life through Nick Carraway, Jacqueline Kennedy is brought to life through Kate, the Irish immigrant who sews Jacqueline's clothes in the back room of a high-end clothing shop. Kate sews the pink suit, carefully laying out the boucle and sewing the lining exactly as Chanel intended the lining to be sewn. She falls in love with the clothing, and that admiration transfers by association to the woman who wears the clothing.

"The Pink Suit," is a beautiful novel, told with the grace exhibited by The Wife herself. Those who appreciate fashion will fall in love with the detail in the descriptions. Those who simply love a good story will fall in love with The Wife, with Kate, and with the world that unknowingly connects them.

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