August 18, 1997 12:00 PM

by Gunilla von Post with Carl Johnes

In the summer of 1953, two young women hitching a ride on the French Riviera were picked up by a British businessman, who soon pulled over to greet a handsome, auburn-haired American friend. One of the women was Gunilla von Post, the 21-year-old daughter of a distinguished Swedish family. And the American—who joined Gunilla for an elegant dinner and kissed her before the evening ended—was Sen. John F. Kennedy, at liberty just a week before his wedding to Jacqueline Bouvier.

Love, Jack is Gunilla von Post’s account of the love affair that followed this meeting. For two years the future President pursued Gunilla with letters and phone calls until, in 1955, they spent an idyllic week together in Sweden, their joy marred, she writes, by Jack’s bouts of crippling back pain and his marital worries. The lovers met only once more, for a few moments and by accident, in 1958 at a Manhattan banquet that Gunilla attended with Anders Ekman, the wealthy landowner she had married.

Love, Jack does little to quash the image of JFK as a slick womanizer. Still, this short, rather touching book is suffused with the sweet nostalgia of a woman recalling a long-ago romance that changed her life. (Crown, $20)

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