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Jackie's relationship to Kennedys was strained

NEW YORK -- Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis refused to be treated like a second-class citizen -- as were other women in the Kennedy clan - when she married John F. Kennedy, according to a soon-to-be-published unauthorized biography.

The first of five serialized installments of C. David Heymann's 'A Woman named Jackie,' which will be published by Star magazine Monday, quotes an unidentified confidant of the former first lady as saying 'Kennedy women were treated like second-class citizens, and Jackie refused to play second fiddle.'

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The confidant said the former Jacqueline Bouvier nursed grave doubts about her future husband's womanizing and how she would fit into the Kennedy family.

'She realized that if she married into that family, she would be expected to cater to their every whim,' the biography said.

Jackie loved her father-in-law, Joseph P. Kennedy, but her relationship with her mother-in-law, Rose Kennedy, was not easy, according to the book, which quotes President Kennedy's close friend, Langdon Marvin, on the subject.

'They deplored one another,' Marvin said. 'Rose was amused by Jackie's habit of running the water faucet when she went to the bathroom, to drown out the sound of bodily functions.'

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The future first lady had two unsuccessful pregnancies early in her marriage, including a daughter who was still-born by Caesarean section.

'Though the Kennedys never mentioned it to her face, there was always the uncomfortable feeling in the air when she was around that, as far as childbearing went, she had rather let them down,' the book quotes the late actor Peter Lawford as saying. Lawford was married to Jackie's sister-in-law, Patricia Kennedy.

'Behind her back they would ... suggest she was maybe too 'high born' to have children. I mean babies were literally popping out of (the other Kennedy) women, while Jackie had her share of problems.

'What's more, Jackie had to bear the brunt of the burden by herself,' Lawford said. 'Jack, to his eternal discredit, just couldn't grasp the situation -- the miscarriage she had endured previously, the stillbirth, the need for C-sections, the prolonged hospital recoveries.

'It was something he couldn't face and to my mind ... it represented a profound failing on his part, a grave weakness.'

The Kennedys did have two children, Caroline and John Jr.

As first lady, Jackie sought opportunities to avoid visiting the Kennedy compound at Hyannis Port, Mass., the book said.

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'The big payday for Jackie came when the president gave her the money to design and build Wexford, her own weekend retreat in the rolling hills of Virginia.

'I need a place where I can go and be alone,' she is quoted as telling friends.

'It was Jackie's independence, her recognition that she and Jack needed to be apart occasionally, that helped sustain their marriage,' Heymann wrote.

'Jackie had the whip hand insofar as she cared little what people thought and could therefore walk out of the White House any day if so disposed,' he quoted Lawford as saying.

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