Jackie and Maria / The Second Marriage

The President’s Wife; a Glamorous Opera Star; the rivalry that shook the world…

Jackie Kennedy is beautiful, sophisticated, and contemplating leaving her ambitious young senator husband. She is madly in love with him but life in the public eye with a man who is obsessed with politics and seems incapable of fidelity is breaking her spirit. When they are invited for cocktails on the luxurious yacht owned by billionaire Ari Onassis she is intrigued to meet him…. little suspecting that the encounter will ultimately change her life.

Maria Callas is at the height of her operatic career and widely considered to be the finest soprano in the world. And then she’s introduced to Aristotle Onassis, the world’s richest man and her fellow Greek. Stuck in a childless, sexless marriage, and with pressures on all sides from opera house managers and a hostile press, she finds her life being turned upside down by this hyper-intelligent and impeccably charming man…

Little by little, Maria’s and Jackie’s lives begin to overlap, and they come closer and closer until everything they know about the world changes on a dime.    

Jackie and Maria
Published in the US and Canada on 18th August 2020.

The Second Marriage
Published in the UK, Australia and New Zealand on 17th September 2020.

Scroll down for reviews:

PRAISE for Gill Paul and Jackie and Maria

“An addictive pleasure, offering readers a front-row seat to an infamous rivalry and the opportunity to hobnob vicariously with the rich and famous.… The captivating narrative paired with supplemental reading group questions paves the way for an instant book club favorite.” Library Journal

“Kudos to Gill Paul for bringing these two complicated women to life so beautifully.” Ashley Hasty, Hasty Book List

Fans of the Kennedys will love this introduction to Maria Callas!” Stephanie Marie Thornton, USA Today bestselling author of And They Called It Camelot

“Absolutely delicious! Jackie and Maria is perfect historical fiction. I adored it.” Hazel Gaynor, New York Times bestselling author of  The Girl Who Came Home

“Readers will surely encounter a new side of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. I simply adored this novel!” Renee Rosen, author of Park Avenue Summer

Impossibly chic and fiercely independent, both women commanded my attention from the first page, and I applauded them both to the last.Kerri Maher, author of The Kennedy Debutante

I can’t rave highly enough about this book – it’s my favourite Gill Paul novel to date.” Tracy Rees, author of The House at Silvermoor and Amy Snow (A Richard and Judy pick)

“Glamorous and highly seductive this compelling story explores the lives of two complex, powerful women complete with all their talents and flaws. I loved it.Dinah Jefferies, author of The Missing Sister and The Tea Planter’s Wife

“Heartbreaking. Brilliant. Powerful. Its intensity and perception knocked me out. Gill Paul at her best.” Kate Furnivall, author of The Guardian of Lies and The Betrayal

Reading Group Questions

  1. Maria and Jackie were quite different characters, with a few things in common: they both lost babies, and they both fell for Aristotle Onassis. What do you think were the main differences and similarities between them?
  2. Did you feel more sympathetic towards Jackie or Maria, or did your sympathies change throughout the novel? How did the women themselves change during the years covered?
  3. Did switching from Maria’s to Jackie’s story and back again every couple of chapters work for you? Or would you have preferred to stay longer with each?
  4. Jackie and Jack had an unconventional marriage by the standards of their era. Do you understand her decision not to challenge him about his infidelities? Was he a good husband in other ways?
  5. Maria had to fight all her life: with her mother, with opera house directors, with the press, with her husband, and then with Onassis. Is that why she got the reputation for being a ‘diva’? Critics still consider her one of the greatest sopranos of all time. Is it necessary to be “difficult” to be the best? Would she have attracted the same criticism if she were a man?
  6. Can you see why women fell for Onassis? Was it just about his money? What other qualities did he possess that might have been attractive?
  7. Why do you think Onassis did not marry Maria, yet married Jackie so precipitously?
  8. Did you sympathize with Lee, the competitive younger sister? If not, why not? Should Jackie have checked whether Lee was still in love in Onassis before she considered marrying him herself, or is all fair in love and war?
  9. Do you think Jackie might have had an affair with Bobby after Jack’s death, as some biographers suggest?
  10. Which of the novel’s locations stick most strongly in your memory, and why?
  11. Why do you think the author arranged the book into five ‘acts’? Does the story follow the structure of traditional five-act tragedies written for theater?
  12. Was there enough explanation of the historical background? Or was there anything you would have liked to be more fully spelled out?
  13. Apart from new technology, such as cellphones and computers, what was different about life in the 1960s to life today?
  14. Readers will have known from the start that JFK was assassinated, and that Jackie subsequently married Onassis. How does knowing what is going to happen affect the reading experience?
  15. Have you changed your opinion of either Jackie or Maria after reading this book?