Thursday, September 24, 2020

Blog tour: The Second Marriage by Gill Paul

Ah, the lifestyles of the rich and famous!

When I was offered this book to review, I was definitely interested, despite modern American history not being my normal jam, and despite knowing very little about the main characters in this book: Maria Callas, Jackie Kennedy and the man that linked them, Aristotle Onassis.

So let's check off what I did know firstly about Maria Callas. She was an opera singer. And....that's it.

I knew a fraction more about Aristotle Onassis. I knew he was one of the richest men in the world, that he was a Greek shipping tycoon, that he owned a big yacht and a Greek island, and that he married Jackie Kennedy.

While I know more about Jackie Kennedy, it really is at the more common knowledge level - married to JFK and mother of his children, present at his assassination, grieving widow, style icon. Oh and I have, of course, heard of the Kennedy curse.

This book has an interesting structure. Both Maria and Jackie tell us their story, both starting in the 1950's. We meet Maria as a hugely successful opera singer. She is married to her manager, Battista, and has a reputation for being a bit of a diva. In reality, she works very hard on her voice and on putting on the best performance she can every time she sets foot on the stage. We meet her just as she is introduced to Aristotle Onassis, who then pursues her despite the fact that they are both married. What follows is a passionate, volatile life long affair, full of ups and downs, of glamourous parties and a luxurious lifestyle.

In the other side of the story, we meet Jackie Kennedy in the summer of 1956. She is heavily pregnant and her husband John Kennedy is off vacationing on the other side of the world as she goes into an early labour. We follow her life with JFK as she struggles with being a political wife, feeling like an outsider in the large Kennedy clan,  and feeling disassociated from her own family, in particular her younger sister Lee. When tragedy strikes the Kennedy family twice, Onassis offers her and her young family protection and financial security which she takes, without necessarily understanding the man that she was marrying.

Onassis is the kind of man who would have been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons during the #metoo movement. No matter how much he protests that he loves Maria he thinks nothing of having affairs with other women, bestowing them with gifts, and then marrying Jackie, breaking Maria's heart. He was also not afraid to manipulate anyone in order to get what he wants, from the media to paying off people for all sorts of reasons, and more.

What both of these women had in common is that they were cultured, high profile women who loved men who didn't treat them well.

So the question is, did I know more about these people by the end of the book, and the answer is yes.  I am not sure though that I necessarily felt connected with either woman. Of the two, the one who I ended up having more sympathy for was Maria Callas, who seemed to get the rough end of the stick over and over again.

Whilst I can see why the author wanted to tell the two stories together, bringing them together to the point where their lives overlapped, I don't think the structure of the book worked as well for me as it did for other people who have read it. I did like that there was a detailed authors note where she told us what was true and what she made up to fit the story.

Looking at Gill Paul's backlist, I think that she chooses very interesting stories from history, so I am curious about her Russian history books and will be keeping an eye out to see what comes next.

I thought in finishing I would share a video of Maria Callas in her prime!

Thank you to Random Things Blog Tours for the opportunity to read this book. 

About the book and author

The Second Marriage by Gill Paul

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Avon (17 Sept. 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000836625X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0008366254



When her first marriage ends in tragedy, Jackie Kennedy fears she’ll never love again. But all that changes when she encounters…

Successful and charming, Ari Onassis is a man who promises her the world. Yet soon after they marry, Jackie learns that his heart also belongs to another…

A beautiful, famed singer, Maria Callas is in love with Jackie’s new husband – and she isn’t going to give up.

Little by little, Jackie and Maria’s lives begin to tangle in a dangerous web of secrets, scandal and lies. But with both women determined to make Ari theirs alone, the stakes are high. How far will they go for true love?


Gill Paul's historical novels have reached the top of the USA Today, Toronto Globe & Mail and kindle charts, and been translated into twenty languages.

They include THE SECOND MARRIAGE (titled JACKIE AND MARIA in the US), two bestselling novels about the Romanovs - THE SECRET WIFE and THE LOST DAUGHTER - as well as WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST, which was shortlisted for the 2013 RNA Epic Novel of the Year award, NO PLACE FOR A LADY, shortlisted for a Love Stories award, and ANOTHER WOMAN'S HUSBAND, about links you might not have suspected between Wallis Simpson and Princess Diana.

Gill also writes historical non-fiction, including A HISTORY OF MEDICINE IN 50 OBJECTS, and she speaks at libraries and literary festivals on subjects ranging from the Titanic to the Romanovs.
Gill lives in London, where she is working on her tenth novel, and she swims daily in an outdoor pond.

Twitter @GillPaulAUTHOR

Instagram @gill.paul1


  1. My knowledge of the three main characters is as scanty as yours was. Interesting tale. Thanks for the review.

    1. Maybe it's true of every celebrity/figure from history....we really only a fraction of the truth

  2. Huge thanks for the blog tour support xx

  3. I am soooo jealous that you got to read this already... I really want to read this one! Been trying to see if I can get it in SA, but no luck yet.

    Loved your review, does makes me want to read it even more!

    Elza Reads

  4. I think I might add this to my list.
    Funny, I finished a book a couple of weeks ago also called The Second Wife by Rebecca Fleet that is as different as it could be from yours!

    1. Just found it at our library under the title Jackie and Maria.



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