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The Secret Letters: of Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy
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The Secret Letters: of Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  686 ratings  ·  92 reviews
The Secret Letters is a thrilling, compulsive novel with a unique premise: What if Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy---the two most iconic women of our time---had met and begun a secret correspondence?

A compelling page-turner set against the glittering backdrop of Hollywood and Washington during the 1950s and 1960s, The Secret Letters presents Marilyn and Jackie as you hav
Paperback, 288 pages
Published July 1st 2004 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2003)
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3.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  686 ratings  ·  92 reviews

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Jan 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Film Lovers, epistolary novel fans
I started this book as a "quickie," expecting not much more than glorified chick lit, but was I ever mistaken. Wendy Leigh has taken the lives of two extraordinary women, created the conceit of a correspondence between them, and used voluminous non-fiction resources to create one of my new favorite reads. Reading these "letters" made me want to seek out further biographies (I've read several biographies of Miss Monroe, but not many of Jacqueline Kennedy - I think I'll be finding Sarah Bradford's ...more
Lynda Kelly
Dec 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book !! I'm a huge fan of both women featured and therefore was totally intrigued. Of course it's a sad ending but still made for a really fascinating read. You could picture the pair of them throughout too.
There were a LOT of basic spelling mistakes throughout. Now I know the author said there would be some in Marilyn's side of this correspondence but they were way too basic to have been the case and many occurred in Jackie's letters. Such as with which should be while and lake for
May 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, 4000-books
An improbable, but fascinating, premise...

This work of fiction is based on the improbable premise that Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy had a secret friendship. The story is told in the form of letters between the two women.

In the beginning, the friendship starts tentatively, but the women gradually share confidences with each other, knowing their secrets are safe, as both have much to lose otherwise. What starts out as a sweet, rather touching friendship, turns into something quite sordid.
Aug 06, 2017 rated it liked it
A decent portrayal of two icons of their time. Told in epistolary format this book is sure to satiate any fan of Monroe or Jackie.
Nov 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
This work of fiction purporting to be letters written between Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy goes to great lengths to appear real - opening with correspondence between a publisher and the woman who has the letters, a spurious introduction by a so-called expert, and many historical footnotes in the letters themselves. Because you know that it is fiction, I don't think it was necessary to try so hard to give it an authentic feel. I thought that all the explanatory footnotes interrupted the flow ...more
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: marilyn
I put this one away in a few hours. I found it at a good price on and, after reading a bit of Marilyn-themed fiction this year, gave it a read.

As speculative history, it's okay. I am not familiar with Jackie Kennedy lore, so I can't vouch for the accuracy of voice in Jackie's letters to Marilyn. It may interest fans of either, but I thought it was okay.
Feb 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: the-kennedy-s
A quick read with some entertaining moments. The Secret Letters was just okay. Unless your really into Marilyn. Monroe or Jackie Kennedy it really isn't worth your time but if you're like me & will read literally anything about MM & JKO then maybe add it to your To Read list.
I was surprised by how much I liked this. I was feeling lost for something to read, not sure what I was in the mood for, nothing sounded good, etc etc. And I was looking through my kindle collection of "free reads" that I've built up over the years and somehow this jumped out this time.

I apparently 'bought' it (free) in 2012....

At any rate, I am a fan epistolary novels to begin with so that biases me right off the bat. In this case, most of the letters rang true to my image of both women. Some o
Apr 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Normally, epistolary novels rarely hold my attention, but this fictional account of secret letters written between Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy managed do just that; And this, despite my difficulties suspending my disbelief throughout knowing Kennedy would never have written such letters. The author's bold premise managed to be both sympathetic and disastrous as the reader knows too well that no good will come of any of it based on what tragedies would soon befall these real life icons.
Leann Moore
Jul 18, 2019 rated it liked it
A clever and creative idea, but the on the whole, the letters were too frivolous and far fetched for my liking. Some of the letters were great, others annoying. Many of the tidbits are well researched, but overall, the women are portrayed as too shallow for my taste.
Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was such delicious reading, for me. I had to keep reminding myself "This never happened. Don't believe it. It never happened."
I am the first to admit that I generally hate chick lit. And even though this book was lumped in ‘historical fiction’, I find it more of an AU story and chick lit. It’s got all of the things that are supposed to get us sighing and angry and all of that good girly stuff. I gave this 3 out of 5 because the idea is fantastic–can you imagine if Jackie and Marilyn actually did write back and forth? That would be amazing. I love both women and respect them; however, in the letters that ‘Jackie’ wrote, ...more
Aug 18, 2013 rated it liked it
I always love reimagined stories and this was definitely one that piqued my interest. Clearly I wasnt around during the real life Kennedy / Monroe popularity and drama, but this seems to be a neverending tale. Sometimes, I dont understand the draw of the many stories (Jackie's whole persona, Jack's political career, Marilyn's sex appeal and fame), but that comes from someone born into a much different age. Sometimes I do understand it and I can't find a comparison in the world today that really ...more
Feb 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
A fictional book of letters written back and forth between Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy, some could be true and others more for the general audience. I've always liked both women, each in love with John Kennedy, and this is a "what if" story. A fun read for me.

From Amazon:
The Secret letters is a dazzling, mesmeric novel with an intriguing and original premise: What if Jacqueline Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe – the greatest icons of our time – had somehow met and then corresponded secretly?

In the yearly 1960s Jacqueline Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe were probably the two most famous women alive and although they appeared to have little in common, this book takes a look behind these legends and imagines a friendship growing between them. Yes, it is a little far-fetched, and yet I often found myself having to remind myself that this was fiction because the author has quoted so many things that we now know about Jacqueline Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. Were they equals? They were from com ...more
To be honest, this isn't a great book or a great testament to two iconic women, but it has a soapy quality that makes you keep reading just to watch it unfold and as such, I finished it quickly but then felt kinda flat - like why did I devour what was pretty average writing?

The women in question are what makes this book - the idea that they could have had a correspondence is actually delivered well so you realise that although this is fictionalised, it isn't outwith the realm of possibility that
Nov 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
From Booklist
Leigh, biographer to the stars (including Liza Minelli, Prince Edward, and JFK Jr.), has apparently discovered a more innovative method for exploiting celebrities. In this weird novel, Leigh has imagined several years of correspondence between Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy. Although it is not badly written and is fairly compelling to read, the stereotypes (emotional nutcase and slutty sex-maniac Marilyn versus the Queen of all established society, Jacqueline Kennedy) are ove
Jan 04, 2016 added it
I recommend the book.
I gave the book two stars because of all the grammatical errors in it. I was a child when Richard and Elizabeth, Jack and Jackie, Marilyn and whoever made headlines. Those were fascinating times. The stories were written in my mother's prim and proper ladies' magazines. I never saw any of these aforementioned people do anything improper, so please do your own research as to the truth of what was written and said about them. Reading this author's take on the subject may or ma
Jul 26, 2010 rated it liked it
I was so excited for this book, and, in some ways, it was neat to hear the author's opinion of what an exchange between these two. I liked learning more about each of the famous women, as many of the events and characteristics were factual. However, I felt the novel was a bit contrived. My biggest issue with this novel was Jackie's reaction to the affair when it was finally revealed to her. She was very sympathetic to Marilyn, and I do not believe this would have happened had it played out the s ...more
Adam Vanzant
Dec 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
SO, I'm a huge Marilyn fan and I read every book pertaining to her I can find. This book is amazing. I felt like i could almost hear her reading these letters out loud. Some books on Marilyn disappoint me and feel watered down but this made me feel as though I were digging through her belongings and finding her intimate pieces and splaying them upon my bed for my own enjoyment.
I must add that I have never really care for Jackie, she had impeccable style but she was never someone that seemed ope
I loved this book! It was my first Marilyn Monroe book, but will not be my last. After reading this, I must know more about both Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. I found myself wanting this book to have been nonfiction. I wanted these two women to have been friends. I wanted this story to have been the way things were for all of them. A part of me will always believe this is the way it all happened,even though I know there is no way it could have. I laughed and cringed with these two women. Ma ...more
Apr 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 200-to-299-pages
The Secret Letters of Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy was entertaining. The two women came from totally different backgrounds, had totally different styles and yet some of their outlooks on life were very much the same. Marilyn's letters contain revealing 'fact' about any man she found interesting, while Jackie's letters were understanding and classy. The contrast in content and styles along with the understanding they had for one another provided many laughs and enjoyment of the novel.
Aug 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Joni by: I found this book at the library. The kids were being stinkers s
Imagine reading letters sent from Marilyn & Jackie Kennedy, what a trip. Wendy Leigh did such a great job researching both of these famous ladies I almost felt like the letters were real! It was a real page turner, I couldn't wait to read the response from the other lady. I also learned more about each family and maybe a little bit about how they lived and their dreams. (Not to mention the behind the scenes of Hollywood and Washington) This is a quick read, not easy to multi-task with, but i ...more
Annette Reynolds
Sep 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
4 **** for the writing. 2 ** for the editing.

It was hard to separate fact from fiction in this super little novel about the (fictionalized) secret correspondence between Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe.

The author did a great job of making each letter totally believable; each letter completely owned by the writer.

As I was reading "The Secret Letters" I kept thinking: I want more. More letters, more insight, just plain more.

My only Thumbs Down on this book was for the excruciating amount of
Karen Frayne
Dec 09, 2012 rated it liked it
I missed the part that said "fiction" so was reading feverishly to gain insight into the lives of two iconic woman. Jackie is one of my heroes. Imagine my chagrin when I discovered my error! Light reading once I knew it was fiction. Always appreciate a joke on myself. Wasn't really thrilled with the sexual information, not from any moral stand, but because I didn't think the discussions fit the characters. It was initially what clued me in to the fiction. Enjoyable enough.
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was such a great book. I was thoroughly fascinated and enthralled by the "letters" and I kept forgetting what I was reading was a work of fiction. It really felt as though these could truly have been real correspondence between these two incredibly interesting women.

The book succeeded not only in entertaining me, but also in interesting me in reading more on both of these ladies and their lives.
Dec 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Exquisitely well researched, this moving book imagines the ongoing correspondence between Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. With its many references and annotations, it's impossible for the reader to distinguish what is fact and what is imagined by the author unless one is intimately acquainted with the history. This blurring of the line helps create an authenticity to the novel that might otherwise not be present.

I got this book as a Kindle freebie and was quite pleasantly surprised.
Marianne Stehr
Jun 27, 2016 rated it did not like it
Ick, there were really very few of these "letters" that were worth reading. Toward the end they really got bad (and I wasn't sure that was possible) There are typos in the book and that always bothers me since they have to proofread these books several times before publication. In any case, I had an expectable of the realistic fiction of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer, I mean I know it is fake, but it should read as if it were real. This was not believable and really just not entertaining.
Paul Garrett
Oct 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I downloaded the free ebook, figuring it would be a light, fluffy read, and found myself drawn into an age through which I lived but, as Elton John sings, when I was just a kid. That the letters are made-up by Wendy Leigh is forgotten as two famous women gradually establish a bond that turns to friendship, falters, and might have resumed had Marilyn not died. If you remember the 1960s or would like to get the feel of them, this is a fine book to read.
Diane Lybbert
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Fictional account of 'what if' Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy were friends/pen pals back in the 1960s. Letters contain descriptions of actual events of the time, with the imagined reaction the two women would have had to those events. Fast-paced (couldn't wait to read each letter and the response) and interesting.
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Ghostwriter & celebrity biographer. She has also written books on love, sex & relationships
“For as much as Hillary Clinton might hate admitting this about Monica Lewinisky, Eleanor Roosevelt about Missy Le Hand, Queen Alexandra about Lillie Langtry, Lady Nelson about Emma Hamilton, or Jackie about Marilyn, the reality is that despite their intrinsic animosity toward each other, on a a deep level, the wife and the mistress generally have far more in common than they might care to admit and could, had fate dealt them different cards, even been true friends.” 8 likes
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