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Reviewed by Alice DiNizo for Readers' Favorite
Randy Taraborrelli's extensively researched information about the three major Kennedy women, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Ethel Skakel Kennedy, and Joan Bennett Kennedy, will fascinate the audio listener. First, in those long ago years of the 1950's, Ethel married Robert Kennedy, then Jacqueline married John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and then, lastly, Joan married Edward "Ted" Kennedy and in their day and age, managed well their husbands' notorious behavior and put up a calm front when they three would probably have rather left their marriages forever. Author Taraborrelli tells their story through recalled conversations and reader Beth Fowler's interpretation of Ethel's forthright language, Jackie's breathy and intelligent responses, and Joan's honesty about her tumultuous years with Ted Kennedy and his plane crash. The presentation of the horrors of Chappequidic Island is excellent. Jackie's recollection of JFK's assassination and how she had to deal with his gruesome death will bring the listener back to the awfulness of that day. Joan's decent into alcoholism as she suffered miscarriages while enduring Ted's not always above-board behavior will have the reader understand deeply why her life took such turns. Ethel's strong, "gang is all here" attitude got her through the horrors of losing both her husband and her famous brother-in-law and will have the listeners shaking their heads in wonder at her strength. Jackie, Ethel and Joan were three different women but they kept strong ties with each other as they lived through the tumultuous 1960's.
"Jackie, Ethel, Joan" is a 5 volume CD set that readers will want to hear as it tells of the characters of three women who married into the Kennedy clan as it was on the ascendent. Beth Fowler does a highly credible job of reading it and that is saying a lot as Taraborrelli's style is to use conversation, both written and recalled. The chapters of this book follow each other nicely, sometimes going back into prior years to make a point. "Jackie, Ethel, Joan" is a welcome addition to the many books written about the Kennedys as it covers the personal, private lives of three women who stood by their men no matter what.