Snap Judgment: Books

Grace and Power
by Sally Bedell Smith
Smith has made a career out of turning the lives of bold-faced names into meticulously researched biographies. This time she targets the most glamorous couple to inhabit 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. In "Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House," Smith chronicles Jack and Jackie's highs and lows: heroic diplomacy, prodigious infidelity and a sparkling intellectual and social life unsurpassed by their successors. As in her previous biographies of William Paley, Pamela Harriman and Princess Diana, Smith leaves no detail unturned. It may overwhelm a casual reader, but it will satisfy any Kennedy junkie.

Confessions of a Bigamist
by Kate Lehrer
You've got to feel a little bit of sympathy for Michelle Banyon, Lehrer's 47-year-old heroine. She's torn between two lovers: her high-powered Manhattan husband and a passionate Texas naturalist she meets when she literally runs him over and then nurses him back to health. Who will she choose? The title's a hint. Her romantic juggling act is a middle-aged woman's fantasy tale--hardly realistic, but a great escape.

The Second Assistant
by Clare Naylor and Mimi Hare
It is tempting to try to call this book a blend of chick lit and Hollywood-insider tell-all, but the harder you try, the harder it fights back. Plucky heroine? Check. Lots of tales of Hollywood snarkiness and nuttiness? Of course. But this story of a power agent's lowly second assistant has a lot of heart to go with its smarts, and the authors know what so many people overlook: that just because Hollywood sells fantasy doesn't mean the spell it casts isn't real, even to the people who work there. Besides, how can you not like a book in which the resident psychiatrist is also a psychic?