If there is one American historical event that can rival my inquisitiveness for all things Salem, Massachusetts, it is the assassination of it’s 35th president, J.F.K, on this day in 1963.
For those who don’t know, the infamous pink Chez Ninon suit is currently being stored in the National Archives with a handwritten note form Kennedy’s mother outlining who wore the suite, Jackie Kennedy, and when it was worn, November 22, 1963.
Unfortunately, Caroline Kennedy singed a provision in 2003 stating that the suit be persevered but not displayed to the public until at least 2103, and given that unless modern medicine can make me live until 112, I will never get to see this gaunt piece of American history.
Instead, I have to look to novels, both non-fiction and fiction, documentaries, and movies to fill my curiosity on this turbulent time. When I saw The Pink Suit in the bargain bin at my local book store, I knew I had to read it.
Did The Pink Suit satiate my historical appetite? Keep on reading to find out my thoughts and opinions.
The Pink Suit by Nicole Mary Kelby
Publisher: Back Bay Books (April 10, 2014)
Print Length: 288 pages
Audiobook Length: 9 hrs 9 mins
Narrator: Gabrielle de Cuir
On November 22, 1963, the First Lady accompanied her husband to Dallas dressed in a pink Chanel-style suit. Much of her wardrobe, including the pink suit, came from the New York boutique Chez Ninon where a young Irish immigrant named Kate worked behind the scenes to meticulously craft the memorable outfits.
Kate is torn between the glamorous world of Chez Ninon and her traditional Manhattan neighborhood. Finding balance is not easy in a time when women are still expected to follow the rules. And when you’re in love, it’s impossible.
Kelby’s luxurious narrative gives fascinating insight into the real story behind the iconic pink suit, introducing the reader to the wildly unforgettable characters that made the First Lady into the fashion icon of the century.
Kelby really has a way with words that makes you care about fashion.
Even now I can vividly remember her descriptions of the pink boucle wool, sticking to everything from hats and skirts, to sandwiches and cups of tea. Regardless of whether or not you’re interested in the tragic history of the suit, Jackie O, and J.F.K, Kelby’s care to explain every detail that went in to the making of the pink suit is enough to give this novel a try.
Kelby also has a talent for presenting the history of fashion in both France and America in a way that, at least for me, is interesting for those who know very little of its history. I enjoyed reading about Channel, Chez Ninon, ‘Maision Blanche’ and the Irish immigrant experience.
Perhaps the idea I enjoyed most in this novel was that while The Wife was ever so present in the narrative she never really felt like a viable character. Instead, Kebly chooses to focus on the characters behind the iconic suit. Kate was a great protagonist, romance aspect aside, and her unwavering love in fashion added a layer to her character that is missing in other novels.
The only issue I had with this novel was the ending. I remember stopping my fiance to read him the first paragraph of this book because it was so captivating, but for a novel that was chalk full of intrigue having the characters leave behind America for Ireland just didn’t feel like the proper sendoff.
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.