Jack's Widow

Jack's Widow by Eve Pollard Read Free Book Online

Book: Jack's Widow by Eve Pollard Read Free Book Online
Authors: Eve Pollard
Tags: Fiction, General, Contemporary Women
begun long before she enlisted in a vote-hunting team.
    What none of the Jackie watchers had ever realized was that even as a teenager she had given everything that she wore the level of attention that a warrior might use when selecting his armor. All of it—the gloves, the hats, the dresses, the coats, the suits, the necklaces, earrings and brooches—had a role to play, a protective one. They were to be her mask, a fake front, a façade that she could hide behind. It all began where most of our fears are born, at home.
    As they disagreed on everything else, her parents had very differing and outspoken views on their firstborn.
    Her mother, knowing that her two Bouvier children, though raised in luxurious circumstances, would be poor, inheriting virtually nothing from their father and absolutely nothing from their wealthy stepfather, was desperate for her daughters to marry well, and so repeatedly told Jackie, “Work on your brains and charm, they will win you the right sort of husband.” Janet thought that others in the family were far more attractive, while her father insisted, “Jackie, you have the eyes and mouth of an angel, a slightly naughty one. They will drive men wild.”
    If this wasn’t enough to cause their eldest to feel confusion about her appearance, their scandalous divorce made young Jackie a target for gossip that completely undermined her self-esteem.
    From her earliest years she had been witness to her parents’ constant quarreling. For a while the fights were private, but once they slipped into the public eye—when Janet finally decided that she had had enough of her husband’s gambling, his lack of business prowess, and his many infidelities—Jackie was a marked girl.
    Divorce at the time, especially among the members of the exclusive Social Register, was such a rare occurrence that after her parents had separated they felt they could not divorce without an attempt at a reunion. Unfortunately this lasted only six months. The marriage was over. Jackie was eight.
    Her introduction to unwelcome press attention was a photograph of the entire family that accompanied not just the news of the divorce but an article that included details of the tanned, handsome “Black Jack” Bouvier’s adultery.
    In 1940 a sex scandal marked Jackie out as in some way different. Jackie never totally recovered from the embarrassment of hearing classmates, frequently joined by their ill-bred parents, talking about her behind her back. Childhood celebrations such as birthday parties, which should have been fun, became a nightmare as they merely produced new people who would stare at her.
    Soon it was generally accepted that she was a loner. She was polite, would always join her family for meals, but her chosen hobbies, reading and riding, were solitary ones. She didn’t engage in team sports so learning filled the empty hours. She became an A student.
    Shielding herself became natural to her. She had friends, but she never got too close. How could she invite girls home when she didn’t have a normal family but a house filled with stepfathers, stepbrothers, stepsisters, and eventually half brothers and half sisters? Her confidants were her sister and her eldest half brother, known as Yusha.
    She became a defensive young lady.
    Her father rather admired her aloofness, but her mother didn’t understand her unwillingness to join in with her peers. Because she loved them both she could never bring herself to tell them that her behavior was their fault. She even felt guilty for being angry with them, especially her mother.
    Once she was old enough to understand about sex and adultery these sensitivities heightened.
    Her fascination with all things French fed her initial yearnings to be well dressed. She longed to clothe her tall, lean figure in elegant but chic simplicity but it was hard to achieve at a time when postwar fashion was teased into terminal cuteness.
    By the time Jackie was deemed to be of “young lady”

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