The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher

The Kennedy Debutante

Kerri Maher

Kick, rebellious daughter of America's greatest political dynasties, is swept off her feet by Billy Hartington, the future Duke of Devonshire, but their love is forbidden due to their different religions.

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"A riveting reimagining of a true tale of forbidden love."--People

A captivating novel following the exploits of Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy, the forgotten and rebellious daughter of one of America's greatest political dynasties.


London, 1938. The effervescent "It girl" of London society since her father was named the ambassador, Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy moves in rarified circles, rubbing satin-covered elbows with some of the 20th century's most powerful figures. Eager to escape the watchful eye of her strict mother, Rose, the antics of her older brothers, Jack and Joe, and the erratic behavior of her sister Rosemary, Kick is ready to strike out on her own and is soon swept off her feet by Billy Hartington, the future Duke of Devonshire.
 
But their love is forbidden, as Kick's devout Catholic family and Billy's staunchly Protestant one would never approve their match. When war breaks like a tidal wave across her world, Billy is ripped from her arms as the Kennedys are forced to return to the States. Kick gets work as a journalist and joins the Red Cross to get back to England, where she will have to decide where her true loyalties lie--with family or with love . . .


Advance Galley Reviews

"The Kennedy Debutante" takes us away from the better known stories of the Kennedy clan and focuses on one of the lesser known members, daughter Kathleen. It's a piece of historical fiction that I found to be easily readable and well-researched. Her abbreviated life was fascinating, and her call to serve was very admirable given that she could have easily led a life of leisure. Much of what drives the central character of 'Kick' Kennedy, though, is emotional - and the overly emotional aspects of this novel are what kept me from thoroughly enjoying it. While it's very likely that her decisions over religion were very difficult, they're portrayed in a way that felt slightly over the top - to the detriment of this being a book strong enough to be in the vein of Paula McLain or Melanie Benjamin. It's a good book, but I feel something (likely the portrayal of emotion) keeps it from being a really good book.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The novel focuses on the story of Kick, Kathleen Kennedy's nickname. The story begins in London while Joe Kennedy was the ambassador and Kick made her debut. Kick had many challenges in her life. Her true love was a church of England nobleman. She was an American and Catholic. There were lots of emotions and challenges throughout the book. I enjoyed it very much.

I've been a Kennedy fan for as far back as I can remember. I don't know if it's because their life is so different than mine or whether it is because there is always something new to learn and a new relationship to explore. I love historical fiction and more than that I love historical fiction that is based on real people or real events. The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher is the behind the scenes story of Kathleen, better known as Kit, Kennedy. Kit was the fourth child of Joe and Rose Kennedy and the daughter that chose her own path despite the heartache that caused her parents. The book opens in London during Kit's debutante years and during a time when Joe, ambassador to the UK, was trying to build a stronger reputation of America in the eyes of the British and a stronger relationship with the British as the second great war hung on the horizon. Kit is followed as the she falls in love with Billy Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, who happened to also be a protestant. When it becomes obvious the war is going to happen, the Kennedy's return to the US and Kit pines for Billy all the while searching for a way to get back over the ocean to the life she learned to love. Once the US became involved in WW 2  she found her way over by joining the efforts of the American Red Cross. Eventually, Kit and Billy do reunite and despite him being dedicated to serving in the war they are able to fall in love again and even go against their parents wishes and the rules of the Catholic church and wed. Not long after the wedding Joe Jr dies while piloting for the US and Kit returns home to be with her family. While in the US mourning Joe Jr she finds out that Billy has also lost his life to the war. Kit ultimately returns to London and even takes a lover which unfortunately leads to her death in a plane crash. All of this information can be found in a google search but what Maher brings to the story is the conversations and the feelings felt that happen between the bullet points of information. Maher helped the readers to fall in love with Kit and Billy and to understand why she chose to follow her heart and jeopardize her place in the family and the Catholic church. Kerri Maher explains in the authors notes that she was able to piece this story together through the writings on the other people in Kit's life and the correspondence saved between Kit and Billy and Kit and her family. Maher says she felt honored to tell Kit's story and I am grateful she did. I have always soaked up what I could about the Kennedy's and knew when I saw this offered as an advanced copy through First To Read that I would be lucky to get an early glimpse of this story. Thank you First to Read and Kerri Maher for the opportunity to read and review this book. I received an advanced readers copy through First to Read in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own and I was not required to leave a positive review.

I sometimes enjoy historical fiction but my preference is for actual history. If I am going to read historical fiction, I prefer it to be based in a time period longer ago. This did not really work for me. Also there was way too much sweating and praying in this book. I realize the main character was Catholic and her religion was important to the story but sometimes the prayers were just repetitious. And if I never read the phrase “ four hundred years of history” ever again, that will be fine. To sum up, maybe this was just not a good choice for me.

I’ve read a lot about Jack, Bobby and Teddy Kennedy and, to a lesser degree, Joe Sr. and Rose Kennedy but had not read anything about Kathleen. Kerri Maher’s historical fiction based on “Kick’s” life is intriguing; she shows Kathleen as a strong, independent young woman with a deep love and loyalty for her family, friends, and adopted country of England. After falling in love during the tumultuous years of war, she is torn between her love for Billy who is protestant and her Catholic religion; the author does a great job with Kathleen and Billy’s conflict between religion, family and duty. I enjoyed reading more about the Kennedy family overall and the description of the life of the elite during the period. The book kept my interest from the beginning to the end. I’ll look for more books by Kerri Maher in the future. Thanks Penguin First to Read for a copy.

THE KENNEDY DEBUTANTE was an in-depth look at the life of Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy, one of the lesser known siblings of President John F. Kennedy. I enjoyed not only getting to know Kick, but also seeing Kick's siblings through her eyes. The Kennedy's are one of the most interesting families and while I knew many of the siblings died young and, obviously, a lot about JFK, there are still so many layers to this family that I was able to explore in this book. Joe Kennedy Sr is an Ambassador in England prior to the break-out of World War II. He is a controversial figure in his own right, but Kerri Maher chose to focus on the more positive aspects of his character. Kick is the second-oldest daughter and loves their life in London. She is a debutante and enjoys going to parties and socializing with England's rich and famous. Kick even crosses paths with the King and Queen. I enjoyed seeing this side of London society and to see the gradual shift from parties and fun to the looming threat of war to the actual outbreak of war. While in London Kick falls in love with Billy Cavendish, but, unfortunately, is forced to leave him behind when her family returns to the United States. Throughout the early years of the war Kick lives with her family and then in Washington, DC. Still, her heart remains in England and she works hard to finally return. Kick is an awesome woman. She is gutsy and courageous and also unafraid of standing up for her beliefs. As a staunch Catholic this causes her to butt heads especially with the Protestants in England. This was a fascinating aspect of the story. Seeing Kick battle between her love for a Protestant man and loyalty to her family and faith gave me a more thorough understanding of both Kick and the Kennedy family as a whole. I wish that Kick was more staunch in finding out and protecting her sister Rosemary, who as history tells us, had an intellectual disability of some kind, but was later left in a home for the disabled after a botched lobotomy. The first half of the story was incredibly engaging and I flew through it, the second half got a little bogged down and I wish more time was spent on what work Kick was doing with the Red Cross, but, as a whole, I found this book eye-opening and highly readable. It really does seem as if the Kennedy's and those close to them were cursed because of how many died young. THE KENNEDY DEBUTANTE is definitely worth checking out. Not only does it bring to life Kick Kennedy, but it shows a different perspective of life before, during, and after the war. I hope to read a biography of the Kennedy's in the future because there is just so much about every single one of them that is fascinating. ***SPOILER unless you know the history*** There were still several, short, years of Kick's life the book didn't cover and I am interested in whether all of the loss she suffered led to some loss in her faith to allow her to suddenly want to take up a relationship with a married man. Just seemed out of character of the Kick this story showed.

Kerri Maher certainly did her research with this book! I appreciated the depth of the historical facts. I think this is a needed book about a little-known Kennedy.

I enjoyed reading this book and will be recommending it to my book club. I have read many books about the Kennedy's, WWII (historical fiction and non-fiction). I enjoyed the viewpoint and found it interesting to peek into how the Kennedy kids may have interacted as younger siblings and her perspective of her parents at that time. The author's anticipation that the reader would check out google to see what happened was exactly right and made me laugh. It had a nice flow to it and I really was able to get into the book and lose myself in the story.

I’ve always been fascinated by the Kennedys because I grew up listening to my parents and grandparents discuss JFK and RFK. Like many in their generations, they remembered precisely where they were (Christmas shopping at a local department store) when they heard about JFK’s assassination. Even though I was born long after JFK’s time in office, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Kennedys because they suffered an incredible amount of tragedy – much more than most families in public service typically endure. Therefore, I was so excited to read THE KENNEDY DEBUTANTE because there isn’t much written about Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy, who was a socialite and a little rebellious. (Sadly, Kick was also another Kennedy tragedy, having been killed in a plane crash at a young age.) Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get interested in the story which was disappointing because I had such high hopes about it. It was incredibly slow, and at times the author tried way too hard to cultivate an image of high society (e.g., the constant name dropping, the pretentious way the characters spoke and behaved, the explicit references to new and old money, etc.) Also, I don’t know if it was intentional, but Joe and Rose Kennedy ended up coming across as ambitious social climbers that were all show and little substance instead of ambitious parents determined to see the family involved in politics and policy making. If I didn’t know the characters were supposed to be Joe and Rose, I would have pictured the Thénardiers. It is clear the author did her research, and I understand she has a lot of leeway because it is historical fiction, but this is one book about the Kennedys I should have skipped. (I am thankful I received an advanced reading copy because I would have been very disappointed if I had bought this book.) I think I would have liked the story a lot more if it had been about a fictional American debutante in England and not about one of the Kennedy daughters. People who aren't familiar with the original Kennedy family or who are just learning about the Kennedys will probably enjoy this book.

A wonderfully penned novel about the all-too brief adult life of Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy. Excellent read for anyone interested in the Kennedy family. Kerri Maher did an excellent job with the narrative and hope to her much more from her in the future.

The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher Is the stunning debut by author Kerri Maher. Ms. Maher combines seamlessly fact and fiction to write a love story set against the back drop of war. I have long been intrigued with the Kennedy family and this book about Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy was one that I was so very looking forward to read. Kick is the next eldest daughter of Rose and Joe Kennedy. I have read many books over the years and this is the first that I have read that actually looks at Kick. Her life had obviously been overshadowed by her famous brothers. The book begins when Joe Kennedy is the Ambassador to the UK in London. Kick flourished there. She made life long friends there and also found the love of her life. (No spoilers here, you will have to read the book to find out what happens) The Kennedy Debutante is based on a lovable heroine. By the end of the book the reader feels that they know Kick Kennedy. The book is also a glimpse into the life of one of America’s famous families. It is set during wartime prior and immediately following the United States entrance into the war. It is a poignant depiction of the emotional cost of war. I found the book extremely hard to put down. The characters are well developed and the settings well written. Any one interested in the Kennedy family would love this debut historical novel. Well done Ms. Maher. I look forward to reading future novels by you!

I didn't know much about Kathleen Kennedy except that she died in a plane crash when she was in her late 20s. This book tells the story of her coming out in England and her romance with Billy Hartington. I thought the author did a wonderful job of weaving the politics of Joe Kennedy, Sr. into the story as well as giving insight into the attitudes about Catholics and Protestants in the 30s and 40s. While the focus of the story is Kathleen, her mother, Rose, is also a strong character in the book.

This was a generally an enjoyable read. It's not something I would read at this time of the season (fall) as I tend to prefer horror and creepy stories for fall. It's well researched about Kick Kennedy, and as someone who loves reading anything about the Kennedy's I did enjoy this story and the writing style. If you know about Kick and Billy's scandalous relationship in history then you will enjoy this book. If you don't, I'd say go in blind first and then learn about them after. Overall, I liked this and would give this a 3.75 / 5.00. Again it could be because of the time of year, I'll probably pick this back up in the spring and it could be more enjoyable at that time.

Maher's first attempt at historical fictional is a fine one. She deftly captures the personality of Kathleen Kennedy. THe novel begins in the mid 1930s as Kick is presented at court and eventually meets Billy Cavendish. Time, religion, and WWII keep the two apart for years. THe author's description of the anguish and anxiety Kick must have experienced over converting to Anglicanism and its effects was very good. I'm glad the author decided to end the story when she did and provide a useful note to reveal Kick's end and her research. Readers will enjoy seeing a more intimate side to the Kennedys and the heartache of Rose army's situation. Thanks to Penguin First for the preview read.

3.5 stars I was so excited to get my hands on an advance copy of this because Kathleen Kennedy led an interesting life not just because she was the second oldest daughter of Joe Sr. and Rose, but because she had to make some tough decisions in life. So I'll admit my expectations were high because I thought the author would have a lot of material to work with when writing this historical fiction novel. While story got better towards the end, I really struggled for a big portion of the book. The Kennedy family has moved to London in the late 1930s because Joe Sr. has accepted the position of ambassador. Kathleen, aka Kick, and her older sister Rosemary are introduced to London society and soon Kick meets Billy Hartington who is in line to be the next Duke of Devonshire. While Kick and Billy fall in love they know their families will disapprove as the Kennedy family is Catholic and the Hartingtons are Protestant. Kick is sent back to the United States because of the war but Billy is never far from her mind. But will her family and religion get in the way of her happiness? I think the biggest problem I had with the book was for a very long time I just had this empty feeling while reading. Yes, the author did a good job with injecting historical facts into the story but it felt like it came at the expense of good storytelling. I just wish it hadn't taken so long before I felt an emotional connection to Kick. For me the real heart of the story is in the last 100 pages or so as it felt like the focus was more on what the characters were feeling rather than boring society stuff that was so present for most of the book. I would recommend this book if you have an interest in the Kennedy family but if you are just looking for any historical fiction read, I think there are more compelling ones out there. Thank you to First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.

 


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