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

Now in paperback, the 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 rarefied circles, rubbing satin-covered elbows with some of the twentieth 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. And 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 finds work as a journalist and joins the Red Cross to get back to England, where she will have to decide where her true loyalties liewith family or with love. . . .

Advance Galley Reviews

I enjoyed this book about "Kick" Kathleen Kennedy. I loved her strong spirit and learning more about her life. I felt like the ending was a little rushed, but if you like the Kennedy's you will enjoy this.

I gave up on this book about 100 pages in. I was, quite frankly, bored. I didn't care about Kathleen. I found the characters one-dimensional. The writing was such that I felt a distance with the protagonist and other characters. I wanted to like this book; I'm fascinated by the Kennedys and historical fiction is my favorite, but ultimately I was just not interested enough to stick it out till the end.

An interesting look behind the scenes of American aristocracy. Fans of the Kennedys and historical fiction will find this tale enjoyable.

Thank you for an advance copy of “The Kennedy Debutante” - written by Kerri Maher in exchange for an honest review. A behind the scenes look into the infamous “Kennedy” family from a fresh perspective. The novel mainly focuses on “Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy’s teenage years and coming of age amidst a famous family. It is a grande debut for Maher and it is a cleverly written novel. I enjoyed the book and learning more about the finer details of Kathleen Kennedy who was not spoken of as much as her famous brothers and other siblings. Her struggle to fund her own way and to be free to love whom she chooses vs what was expected of her as a Debutante. Maher breathes life into ‘Kick’s” historical trials and tribulations and let’s us into the Kennedy’s world up close and personal. A compelling historical novel which I enjoyed though I’m usually not a fan of historical novels. This one was mesmerizing to read. The family was under scrutiny as expected 24/7 but to see it from the eyes of the children was a new wavy to get a peek inside. I will probably purchase it and add to my library as it is worth finishing and reading again. Getting a taste of World War II from a broader aspect and the dynamics of high society was a plus. It was engaging and a delight to read. I did learn some new things. I appreciated traveling with “Kick” and her family journeying thru Boston, New York, London, etc to follow this family thru daily escapades. The dynamics of being a ‘Kennedy Debutante” and living as a middle child as well were exposed in detail from “Kick’s” point of view. Thanks for this new look at the “Kick” and the Kennedys which is all encompassing of their real world. Thank you Kerri Maher for writing this novel. Well done.

The Kennedy Debutante is an excellent book. This story talks about the life of Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy before and during World War II. Both the writing and plot are fantastic. Historical fiction fans will enjoy it. Thank you First to Read for the ARC of this book.

I really enjoyed learning more about Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy! Even though this was a fictional account, Kerri Maher did a lot of research and put together an interesting and entertaining story around some real-life accounts. I even learned things about other members of the Kennedy clan that I didn’t know! Thank you to Penguin Random House and First To Read for my electronic copy of this book. I am looking forward to what this author does next!

A spectacular debut for author Kerri Maher, introducing Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy into our lives for a period in which you will not want to put the book down. You travel to England pre- WWII, when she meets Billy who we'll later find out to be her great love. They have to fight to be together and as a result spend a lot of time apart. What struck me most about this book wasn't the love story, but rather her independence and strong character, you cannot help but love her. It's a book you'll keep nearby for more than one read and you don't have to be a lover of historical fiction to enjoy it; it appeals to everyone. Give it a try, and you're bound to enjoy it.

This book is about Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy and her life during the war - a volunteer and the charity work for the Catholic Church. It is very much about the love of her life and the Kennedy Curse. I liked reading about the Kennedy family from an entirely different view from JFK’s. Good read!

I really liked this historical fiction on the life of Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy. She lead an exciting, tragic and short life. I was surprised she was only 28 when she died in a plane crash. Thank you to First To Read and Penguin Random House for the ARC. I really enjoyed it and would recommend The Kennedy Debutante to anyone who likes historical fiction.

Not much is known about this sibling of Kennedy Clan. Her name's Kathleen Kennedy who insisted on her name "Kick". This is a fictionalized account of her life. This novel starts in 1938 until 1944 in London and NYC due to the fact her father was an appointed Ambassador. I wanted to learn more about her despite of her short life since she wasn't as famous as her siblings like Jack and John. The story tells of loyalty, family, high society, love, and religion. However, the first part of the book just dragged on with the details of the parties and trips. It's a meticulous detailed historical novel which I know many of you would enjoy. Don't get me wrong, I'm a major history nerd! I just felt Kerri Maher's writing lacked emotional depth is what I'm trying to get at. I couldn't connect well with the characters in the book as I had hoped at the begining. However, the second half improved to help me read further along. At the end, my heart ached for Kick.. This book was not for me but I'm sure it would for others. I'll give it a 3.5 stars. Since this is the writer's debut book, I'm going to give her next novel a try. I won this ARC from Penguin Random House through First to Read for exchange for my unbiased and honest review. Thank you!

I loved how this book hooked me as a great story, but I also learned so much about Kick Kennedy's life. She was an amazing person and I read everything I could about her after the book ended. This book was amazing as a stand alone with likable characters and plenty of challenges with politics before and during the war. I felt transported to the times she lived and I think it is worthy of 5 stars since it parallels Kick's life so well while still being enjoyable fiction. I will be recommending to others and looking for future books from this author!

Gorgeous story and I found myself frequently running to the Internet to learn more about each character and event. I was not aware of this wonderful Kennedy family member and was thrilled to gain additional knowledge. Engaging and insightful, the author certainly did her research. I would recommend this book to others.

This is an interesting book if you're interested in the Kennedy family legacy. I enjoyed getting insight into Kit's life and found her to be gutsy and likable. I was already aware of Kit's fate before I started the book and I thought the author ended the book at a good place. It's definitely worth a read if you're familiar with the Kennedy family or even if you don't know much about them.

What a wonderful book. I would recommend it to anyone interested in historical fiction. It vividly portrayed a tragically short life. It also gave a view of the Kennedy family that isn’t often seen- the more female viewpoint. A finely written book that I am glad First to Read gave me the chance to read.

This book was more of a review of Kathleen Kennedy's life starting during the lead up to Works War II, and ending toward s the end of the war. The background of the Kennedys lives were interesting, but the focus on religion in the second d half of the book made me want to skim till the end. I found myself really wanting to read a book from her mother's perspective for some reason, instead of Kick's. Thanks to Penguin first to read for the ARC of this book.

You don't have to know anything about America's royal family--The Kennedys--to thoroughly enjoy Kerri Maher's novel, The Kennedy Debutante, a book I had the pleasure of reading over the last week or so through Penguin Random House's First to Read program. The first thing that drew me to the book was the copy saying fans of Downton Abbey would likely take The Kennedy Debutante to their hearts. I think this is a fair assessment rather than hyperbole. I could easily see The Kennedy Debutante unfolding as a weekly television series on PBS Masterpiece. Beyond that, it needs must be said that, throughout, Maher's writing in The Kennedy Debutante is smooth and easy-to-read without ever being simplistic. Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy is at the center of the novel; she is an engaging and believable character that anyone would want to spend some time with and getting to know were they part of her social circle. The problems Kick faces with falling in love with someone who comes from a different religious tradition (Anglican versus Catholic) than her own are believably dramatized by Maher. Kick also struggles mightily with becoming an independent person despite -- or perhaps because of -- her Kennedy connection(s); the question of what will happen to her soul, and her heart, because of whom she comes to love; and two proud families with extensive histories that threaten to tear her apart. Even as an agnostic, I found Kick's conflicts with the Catholic God and the tenets of her faith to be both realistically rendered and achingly poignant. And, just when you might have convinced yourself that The Kennedy Debutante is an escapist treat writ large, the ending comes along and it is deeply affecting; it packs an emotional wallop. The Kennedy Debutante is definitely one of those books that you'll want to curl up with on the couch as it rains or snows outside this fall/winter, a cup of hot tea and scones at the ready for sustenance. Highly recommended. Oh . . . and don't miss the Author's Note after the final chapter.

**Disclaimer: Penguin First to Read program provided me with a free advanced reading copy (ARC) for this review. These opinions are of my own.** Finding a good historical fiction book is kind of hard. While it is still fiction, you want some historical accuracies in the story. This book is beautifully well-written. T

I enjoyed getting to know Kathleen Kennedy. The author really captured Kick's inner struggle as she tried to forge her own identity and find her own path in life. Also high society life in pre-war England was vividly painted, and it was interesting to see some of the changes to that lifestyle once the war started. I'm glad the author ended the story where she did, and I appreciated her notes at the end, both about Kick and about her own inspiration for writing this book. I will be on the lookout for more by this author. Thank you to the Penguin First to Read program for the ARC of this book.

Since I was not familiar with Kathleen (Kick) Kennedy, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her. Maher vividly portrayed Kick's maturity from a social teenager to a strong, independent woman. Kick's strong Catholic faith and tempestuous relationship with her parents are emphasized as being important components in her life. Kick came to realize that she must find her own ways to achieve what she wanted in life and love. I admire this trait. I appreciated Maher including the Author's Note section. I would have been wondering about the last part of Kick's life; she made the information easily accessible. I liked knowing that almost all the English friends were real-life friendships for Kick. That detail added authenticity to the novel. The Kennedy Debutante is a Wonderful read I wholeheartedly recommend!

I finished this book a few weeks ago but did not know what to write about it. I found the book just ok. It was a perfectly fine piece of historical fiction but I can't say it did much for me. Maybe it is because I would prefer to read non-fiction about actual high-profile people than fiction because I never know what is true.

"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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