The #TFBookClub reads ‘The Second Marriage’ set in USA and Europe

4th September 2020

Thank you for joining us as we read The Second Marriage by Gill Paul. Our latest #TFBookClub outing takes us to WASHINGTON DC, NEW YORK CITY, PARIS and THE GREEK ISLANDS for a riveting piece of historical fiction.

From the #1 bestselling author of The Secret Wife comes a story of love, passion, and tragedy as the lives of Jackie Kennedy and Maria Callas are intertwined–and they become the ultimate rivals, in love with the same man.

We will be chatting about the book throughout September and October 2020, so if you are reading it with us, please come and join the dialogue!

The #TFBookClub is your book club – we are here to help you discover new titles that will transport you to interesting locations via top literature for some exceptional #literarywanderlust.

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  1. User: Lesley Morton-Evans

    Posted on: 27/10/2020 at 10:24 am

    Wow ! What a read. Thank you Trip Fiction and to the publishers for sending me an electronic copy of “The Second Marriage”.
    This was my 3rd Gill Paul novel and having enjoyed the previous 2, I felt sure this would not disappoint.
    I found it to be fascinating and compelling leaving me with a desire to research the characters more.
    Prior to reading this I had scant knowledge of Maria Callas other than the common perception that she was a highly talented diva. The life of Jackie seems to be far more documented in the media. In creating her novel about these 2 female icons, Gill Paul has given them equal attention and provided a sympathetic insight into their characters.
    I appreciate that some of the events in the book were not factual but they created the perfect vehicle to convey how entwined the lives of Jackie and Maria were and how both of them, despite their status and talents, were facing demons and endured immense sadness.
    I’d like to thank Gill Paul for a great novel highlighting a fascinating era and for introducing Lee, the “Princess sister” and Ari, the “lothario” who fed the insecurities of J, M & L ( and no doubt many more).
    The afterword was very informative and in itself very interesting, as a result, I plan on reading more about each of the characters.
    I have only one criticism and that is the title. In my opinion it does not provide an adequate idea of what the novel is about. The title alone would not have intrigued me enough to have bought it. Knowing the author and enjoying some of her previous books would have made me look further. In this instance the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” is certainly appropriate.


  2. User: LisaRowsell

    Posted on: 26/10/2020 at 7:35 pm

    This is the first of Gill Paul’s books that I’ve read, and it most certainly won’t be my last.
    The Second Marriage is so beautifully written, and gripped me from start to finish which is no mean feat.
    I admit to not know a thing about the love triangle, so I found it utterly fascinating to read. My heart ached for Jackie after the tragedy of her husband’s death, and then to be embroiled in a fight to win the love of another man.
    It’s not my usual go to genre, but I was so captivated by the story, that I did some research after finishing the book.
    The pace at times was a little slow, and I would’ve liked to have had more of a picture of their surroundngs in my mind. I give this book a 4/5, and will certainly check out other books by this author.


  3. User: readerofbooks

    Posted on: 27/09/2020 at 4:32 pm

    Maria Callas. Aristotle Onassis. Jacqueline Kennedy. Three very different people from three very different worlds. Culture. Business. Politics. Yet their lives were entwined for many years.

    Gill Paul has written a fantastic novel about the vibrancy of the initial affair between Maria and Ari which is halted, though later resumed, by the surprise marriage of Ari to the widowed Jacqueline Kennedy. We meet Maria first, world known opera singer, and she comes over as a warm, passionate woman who yearns for a child but realises that her husband is more her manager than a lover. When we’re introduced to Jackie we’re thrown into the harsh world of politics, the lack of freedom she has as her husband seeks the Presidency, all against the background of creating the right impression to American society. A sterile world where politics controls ones life. The two women are so different, yet both were pursued by Ari, a self-made tycoon who could smarm and cajoule women round his little finger, and was rude and arrogant.

    The vast wealth of Ari, the yachts, the islands, the travel, the gifts, are so visible. The Greek islands come to life. But Maria wants the man, the emotional companionship. Jackie wants the security he can provide with his wealth for herself and her children. Ari wants everything. Power, conquest, showmanship.

    Maria is sympathetically written, she would give everything to have a child by Ari. There’s a lot of conjecture as to whether she did in reality though on the whole it is accepted she did not, but the sadness over the loss of the baby in the book brings out the maternal side of Maria who tries desperately to get Ari’s children by his first wife, Christina and Alexander, to like her without success. Jackie did have children by Jack Kennedy though she lost two of the four, and the fear of losing her surviving children to the assasin’s bullet drives her towards the marriage with Ari. A marriage of convenience, of security.

    I knew a lot of the story behind the three characters and though Ms Paul has altered a little of the timeline to suit the book it is a marvellous retelling. The characterisation is strong and so perfectly described that within a few sentences we know them. Immensley readable I certainly will be looking out for more of Ms Paul’s titles, and thank you to the author for sending me a copy to review.


    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 13/10/2020 at 10:12 am

      A big thank you from the TF team for your detailed review and comment on our current TripFiction Book Club read. So glad you enjoyed it, and that it has inspired you to read other books by this author. We can’t think of a better endorsement! TF’s Andrew


  4. User: Rachel Hall

    Posted on: 24/09/2020 at 7:37 pm

    This is a book I would never have picked up and decided to read myself and I am hugely grateful to TF and Gill Paul for giving me the opportunity as I honestly couldn’t get enough of it! I posted a review and have included it below:
    The Second Marriage is Gill Paul’s epic historical fiction account of two of most iconic women of the 1950s and 60s and their lives, loves and tribulations along with the one man who connected them both: wealthy Greek shipping magnate Aristotle “Ari” Onassis. Alternating chapters between Jackie Kennedy and Maria Callas, spanning two decades and chronicling the major events in the love triangle along with drilling down into their supposedly infamous rivalry, it should be remembered that this is historical fiction, albeit informed by fact. A fascinating snapshot of a remarkable period of time and gloriously readable this is a novel and not an autobiography and Paul’s story leaves the reader to make their own judgements and steers clear of damming the ambitious man who arguably treated both women with less respect than due.
    Opening in 1957 when Maria is married to a man thirty years her senior and approaching the pinnacle of her career as the world’s finest soprano a fleeting meeting with Ari and wife Tina, eleven years his junior, is the precursor to the start of decade long love affair in 1958. Meanwhile Jackie Bouvier Kennedy’s story opens on Rhode Island and the summer of 1956 when husband Jack Kennedy is the Democratic Senator for Massachusetts with an eye on a presidential run and the couple are grieving the loss of a baby. As the novel continues readers see their lives play out in parallel taking in Ari’s marriage to the former First Lady and his eventual death. Details of political events and Ari’s business schemes are minimal and only highlighted if they had significance on the lives of Jackie and Maria and whilst some might regard the celebrity hobnobbing, Ari’s sexual conquests and details of Jackie’s spending as lowbrow it had me turning the pages at a rate of knots!
    Prior to reading I had only the vaguest idea of both women, especially as regards their love lives and against all expectation found the book fiendishly difficult to put down! I was drawn into both of the women’s lives and heads and felt on intimate terms with them as Paul explores their backstories, dreams, hang-ups and fears. My reservations came when I concluded the book and Paul made clear that the novel is very much her creative response to the events and a fictional reimagining. I made the mistake of not reminding myself of this throughout reading and taking the story as gospel truth but what is clearly evident is the staggering amount of research that has gone into the novel and informed the authors understanding of the characters. Whilst I am now left separating fact from fiction it does nothing to detract from Paul’s wonderful prose, the whistle-stop tour of exotic destinations and some exemplary plotting that weaves the lives of three larger-than-life characters together and spans several decades.
    A guilty pleasure of a reading experience, I devoured The Second Marriage and whilst this is my first novel by Gill Paul it will most definitely not be my last. The sensitive characterisation of both women impressed me and most notably Gill Paul’s obvious desire to understand the reactions of both women to an extraordinary series of events in the media spotlight. What shines through, whether the authors intention or not, is just how many characteristics both women share.


    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 13/10/2020 at 10:08 am

      Thanks for your very thoughtful comments, Rachel, on Gill Paul’s ‘The Second Marriage’, TripFiction’s latest Book Club read. Quite a literary feat to mesh fact and fiction so astutely, and with such a depth of research, as you observe. So glad you enjoyed this book, and that it has inspired you to read some of Gill’s other books. TF’s Andrew


  5. User: Miriam Smith

    Posted on: 24/09/2020 at 6:08 pm

    Gill Paul is the best selling author of ‘The Secret Wife’ and her latest publication “The Second Marriage” featuring love, passion and tragedy, based on Jackie Kennedy and Maria Callas, is for me a superb example of women’s historical fiction at it’s best.
    Going into the story, I wasn’t fully aware of all the details regarding the love triangle between Jackie Kennedy, Maria Callas and Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. So for me, the details in the story were new, as I didn’t have anything factual to compare it to, other than Jackie being the wife of the American President John F Kennedy who was tragically assassinated.
    As the story develops, the smouldering tension between Ari and Maria was palpable and their relationship was a one I was immensely engrossed with.
    All of the women in the story led a grief stricken and tragic life, for which no one will ever know the true feeling and emotions they experienced in their real lives. The author in my opinion has managed to convey what she feels would be their true reactions to certain life events with sympathy and compassion and I felt were probably the closest you’d get to their actual lives.
    Having recently watched a programme on television, where a camera crew were allowed to film on the Onassis’ floating palace ‘Christina’ and seeing its opulence and grandeur, it made it all the more easy to imagine the story, where the scenes were set on board the yacht.
    Featuring many real life people I recognised of the era, including the antics of Marilyn Monroe and her sad demise, Winston Churchill, plus one of the most famous assassinations in American history, I really felt connected to the story and found it a thoroughly entertaining escape from our current modern reality.
    I was very pleased to see some historical notes added by the author at the end, which I read with gusto. I even googled more information on the characters to get a further feel for their personalities and history.
    Whether a lot was true to facts or whether it was the basis of a very intelligent imagination, I loved this book. Even once I had finished it, the characters were on my mind and I truly wanted to continue reading more. If you like well written historical women’s fiction that reads like a real life Greek tragedy, then I would happily recommend you read “The Second Marriage” (or Jackie and Maria as it’s called in America) and I’ll certainly be looking to read any further novels by Gill Paul again in the future.

    4.5 stars

    Many thanks to Trip Fiction and the author for my copy of the book, in return for an honest opinion.


    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 13/10/2020 at 10:03 am

      Many thanks for this thoughtful and positive review of our current TripFiction Book Club read, Miriam. So glad you enjoyed it, and wanting to find out more about the characters and their place in history is the perfect endorsement. Thanks again! TF’s Andrew


  6. User: lapsapchung

    Posted on: 16/09/2020 at 6:47 am

    I’m not usually a fan of fiction that features real people, but Gill Paul seems to have a rare talent for making it work. The characters all shine through, and are all far more “real” than the glossy celluloid versions of the accounts of their real lives. Onassis in particular comes over as being a rather adorable type despite also being a greedy, selfish, two-timing *******. Which is possible in real life but in fiction characters are often all-good or all-bad. Callas seems far more approachable and vulnerable in the book than real life accounts portray her as, and Jackie, too, doesn’t seem to be as strong minded and independent as we are usually led to believe. All this adds up to the characters in the book feeling more like real living people than any of the real life accounts of them I have read. So, the characters – excellent. The writing and the story – totally absorbing. The sense of place – not so great. After all, the lives of the ultra rich and ultra famous do tend to be the same wherever they are on Earth, and for security and personal reasons they tend to shield themselves, or have people to shield them, from the everyday life and atmosphere of the places they visit.
    I found myself spending a lot of time on Wikipedia comparing fact and fiction, and found the afterword extremely useful as it explained the thinking behind the changes the author had made. A fascinating book, and one I would probably not have chosen to read if it hadn’t been a TF Book Club choice – thank you for persuading me to read it!


    1 Comment

    • User: tripfiction

      Posted on: 16/09/2020 at 2:36 pm

      So glad you decided to join us. It is a fascinating read indeed!


  7. User: Harriet Steel

    Posted on: 11/09/2020 at 9:37 am

    Novelised accounts of true lives aren’t easy to pull off at the best of times, and particularly so when the subjects are as well known as Callas and Jacqueline Kennedy. Here, the author freely admits in her afterword that she departed from the facts on occasion to write the story she wanted. For example, there’s no evidence Callas had a son, or went back to Onassis after he married Jackie, although there were rumours that she did. There’s also no record of her and Jackie meeting.
    Some people might question the validity of this approach but I have no problem provided the author comes clean! So what we got was an historical romance that’s light on fact but made
    a fun, easy read, ideal for relaxing with on a summer afternoon. (Regrettably, not on a super-yacht with a view of the sparkling Aegean!) The author is good at portraying the glamorous world of private jets, yachts, designer frocks, and rivers of champagne that her subjects inhabited.
    On the whole, I thought the plot worked well, although in the middle, my interest flagged a bit as the scenes got rather repetitive. At over 450 pages, I thought the book was a bit too long. Fortunately, the pace picked up again towards the end. Jackie’s struggle with acute anxiety evoked sympathy and the dark side of her character wasn’t ignored. Generally, there was more sympathy for Callas, although I believe that in reality, a lot of people found her a very difficult woman.
    As far as settings go, I liked the scenes in Greece and thought they were atmospheric. Those in New York and Paris were less vivid, so on atmosphere, I thought it was a 3.5 and 4 on content.
    Many thanks to the publishers for sending me a copy to review.


    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 20/09/2020 at 2:55 pm

      Thanks for your thoughtful and honest review of ‘The Second Marriage’, Harriet. Glad the book at least helps us all escape to Greece ‘virtually’ for a while, and in the company of these larger-than-life characters. TF’s Andrew


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