Sunday, January 30, 2011

One Special Summer by Jacqueline and Lee Bouvier

9. One Special Summer
written and illustrated by Jacqueline and Lee Bouvier
nonfiction, written in 1951; published in 1974; this edition reprinted, 2006
second book for the Dewey Decimal Challenge
finished, 1/24/11

One Special Summer was written by the young Bouvier women about their three-month trip to Europe in 1951. It was a gift for their mother.

In 1974, when Lee Bouvier Radziwill was looking through letters and photographs for a book she was going to write, her mother
brought me this account of my first trip to Europe as one among several of her most precious possessions from us.
And so here it is, just as we did it in 1951, with not a word or a pen stroke changed.
This is what makes it such a meaningful and important book. It documents three months in the lives of two young women off on a huge adventure. Their experience is particular to them. Because they were writing it for their mother's eyes, they didn't censor themselves. The handwriting isn't perfect. There is poetry which they probably wouldn't have shown anyone else. Their observations are sometimes thoughtlessly sharp and critical, and perhaps inadvertently humorous; just as such observations tend to be when we are in our late teens and early twenties. On the ship going over:
This afternoon a fat old woman was seasick in the same bathroom I was in, and two of her front teeth were lost in the event. She wanted me to help her find them in the last disposal, but she had apparently flushed them down the toilet with her first deposit. That really made me feel on top of the world for the rest of the day.
They are young women with money at their disposal, and family connections to support them and offer social experiences. A Hillman Minx car awaited them upon arrival in England.

A letter home shows us that young people haven't changed all that much in these sixty years since. They put the best spin on everything, and offer many reassurances that everything is fine.
DON'T WORRY - We won't come home with liver trouble! We eat and drink terribly sensibly - Plenty of water and fresh vegetables.

And this

I first heard of One Special Summer from Heather. It is a book of pure delight combined with a sad foreknowledge of the future. We travel along with those fancy-free girls enjoying life away from home with the high spirits of youth. But we know the great tragedy and grief which is coming to the future Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Lee Radziwill Ross. It is also an historical document. It isn't something written now about the past; it really happened. We see a more carefree time when two girls could go off to Europe without much worry. They got to experience art and culture and music and have loads of fun doing it. I am so very thankful Lee Radziwill published it, and then republished this new edition. This is a book I'll come back to again and again.


  1. This sounds wonderful - I really want to read this! But I doubt my library stocks it, so maybe I'll be lucky on Ebay or Amazon.

  2. This sounds like one I would enjoy Nan. Thanks so much as I never heard of it before.

  3. I didn't know that Jackie was such a marvelous artist. This sounds like such a sweet book to read, but poignant as you say since we know what happened later in their lives.

  4. Librarian, it is wonderful. How I loved it.

    Diane, I hadn't either before Heather! It's so great.

  5. Kay, the drawings are delightful! Fun of energy and fun. Such a good, good book.

  6. This sounds just wonderful! There aren't any copies in my library system, but I have added it to my amazon wishlist for after the tbr dare.

  7. Are there lots of pictures? Those two were such stylish women. Sounds like one I would enjoy.

  8. I've never heard of this book, but the cover looks vaguely familiar. I wonder if I shelved it at some point in my book seller life. It sounds like a remarkable read, too. I'll have to track down a copy. Thanks, Nan!

  9. Thank you for sharing this review, Nan. I think I would LOVE this book!

  10. I'm with the rest of the group thanking you for bringing this book to light. I think it looks great and I love the personal glimpse into their lives!!

  11. This looks like something I would enjoy poring over. My library doesn't have it, but I'll keep an eye out for it!

  12. I love this book. I love anything Kennedy, have a towering stack of books about them, this is one of my favourites. Wonder if there are any new ones that I have missed.

  13. JoAnn, I think it is a book worth owning. It so wonderful.

    Kay, not lots of photographs, but some nice ones. Mostly words and drawings. I just love it.

    Les, it is a delightful book.

    Aisling, I think you would, too!

    Staci, it is a unique book about their lives which a biographer wouldn't have been able to quite capture.

    Jen, it is a joy.

    Carole, I'm not surprised that you have it!
    Did you happen to read this book report? Do you have the book? It is an interesting approach to Jackie's life story.

  14. Interesting. Sounds as if it would make a good present for the right person. I didn't know Jackie was an artist.


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