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The Kennedy Debutante

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Member Reviews

I was so excited to read about Kathleen Kennedy.  I've read as many books as I could about the Kennedys and for some reason her story is just short and to the point.  She dies in a plane crash in Europe.  It's like she only existed for a short time - but she didn't.  She lived 28 years.  She was a sister, a daughter, a wife but never a mother.  I wanted to know about this women who went against the Catholic Church and married a Protestant.  What happened?  How did the family really feel about?  I thought Kerri did an amazing job answering most of those questions.  I feel like I got to know her.  I loved how she showed us her heart.  But in the end we don't get to know about how she died except for a brief excerpt Kerri did at the end.  To say I was disappointed is an understatement.  She lost her brother and her husband in one month.  We don't get to find out how she bounced back from that.  I wanted to know more about Joe Kennedy but this book wasn't about him.  Kerri gave us a brief insight to his story so maybe I'll find something more on him.  But I want to ask Kerri why?  Why would you end such an amazing book without finishing her story?  Was it a book deadline?  Did you write it and they took it out?  How could you do that to your readers?  Your writing was amazing.  Your research was amazing.  You filled tons of blanks for me on the Kennedys' stay in Europe before WWII.  Was there no research on the end of Kathleen's life.  That's what I am going to believe because I can't believe it was a choice to end it this way.
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This is a great historical fiction novel. The Kennedys are a storied family in the US, but this is a book about Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy, older sister and exPat. It's hard to imagine a love being clandestine because one person is Catholic and the other Protestant, but I don't live in those times so I can't say. Overall, a good read.
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I love this era, and enjoy reading about it, but what is this book about?! Is it about this woman's battle for love during the war? Is it about her relationship with her family? Is it about her ties to two countries? Is it about her duty? Is it about all of them? Is it about none of them? This book is.... a lot of words. By the halfway point of this book the summary is as follows: Girl meets boy, girl falls in love, war begins, girl goes home to America, gets a job at a newspaper. The second half of the book has some 'oh yea, add some drama in there' points dealing with family things, and somehow the reunion of the couple is very anticlimactic and I basically skimmed up through 85% of the book and then just gave up.  She hems and haws about combining the two religions. So, if you want to read about an indecisive woman between two religions, I hope you enjoy this book.
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"The Kennedy Debutante" grew on me as I got deeper into this historical novel about Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy. When her father Joseph Kennedy, Sr., was ambassador to England in the run-up to WWII, Kathleen was a hit on the London social scene and was named Debutante of the Year.

Fresh, stylish, and witty, she wasn't afraid to spread her wings a little bit, but, like all her family, was ever mindful of her Irish Catholic roots. In those days and in the crowd Kathleen ran with, this meant always being a little self-conscious about being different from most of the British aristocrats she socialized with. She often dated friends of her brothers, Joe, Jr., and Jack. 

When she met William Cavendish, the Marquess of Hartington, the attraction was almost immediate. Kick and "Billy" downplayed their romance though, concerned about religious differences. Those differences and the impending war meant nothing would be simple or easy. This off-again, on-again romance survived ultimately, although it ended tragically, with Billy's death close to the end of the war. 

For me, the book picked up as the war began, forcing Kathleen back to the US and introducing more uncertainty into her relationship with Billy. She doesn't just love him, she loves London as well, and her separation from her beloved city is agonizing. Never content to be just a socialite, she channels her energy into work, always hoping to get back to England and to assist as best she can with the war effort. 

Author Kerri Maher did a monumental amount of research into Kathleen Kennedy's life. Kathleen is one of the more obscure Kennedys, if there can even be such a thing, largely because her life was so short. She died in a plane crash before the age of thirty. Maher studied as much as she could about this younger sister of JFK, letting Kathleen's light shine as she aspires for a life of love, faith, and purpose.  

The author's dedication to her subject comes through and will inspire readers to Google more about these star-crossed lovers and also about Kathleen's older sister Rosemary, whose own story was even more tragic than Kick's. There have been a couple of biographies written now about each of the sisters, for those who want to know more. 

I started reading the book knowing little about Kathleen Kennedy beyond the fact that she'd died in a plane crash before her brother's run for the presidency in 1960. While this was a novel, and a first novel at that, I came away from the book with an appreciation for a young woman whose dedication to  faith and family were often at odds, but who ultimately found her own way to be in an imperfect and impermanent world. 

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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Such a beautiful book focusing on Kick Kennedy and her coming of age story. I loved the mix of historical references with Kerri's take on what could have happened to Kick, her friends and her family. This is a must read for all Historical Fiction fans
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I didn't know a single thing about "Kick" Kennedy but I love London and this seemed like a great mashup of American and British stories. I adored this book - the writing, the setting, and the characters all made it a perfect historical read.
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Set against the backdrop of WWII, this is an amazing story of Kick (Kathleen) Kennedy, a fearless, charismatic young woman who is willing to defy her famous family and the social mores of the time and follow her heart. A fascinating, well-researched look at London society and the powerful Kennedy clan. A terrific run. Definitely a home run! Highly recommend.
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I don’t know too much about the Kennedy family so I jumped at the chance to read this book about Kathleen ‘Kick’ Kennedy, and again to be honest I didn't know that there were even Kennedy sisters.

Beginning before the onset of WW2 I was introduced to Kick’s years in England, her mindset as she was trying to discover herself at the same time as being influenced by her family. Influenced seems a mild word given she is one of Joe and Rose Kennedy’s daughters and they had high standards for their children whether they liked it or not.

The author portrayed a brave young woman who searched, found purpose and love in a country not her own. Her struggles, heartache, and growth were depicted here as was her relationship with the family.  By the end, I was googling to learn more about her and other members of the family.

I struggled at the beginning but it ended up being an enjoyable read.  This is my first time reading Kerri Maher and will be on the lookout for more of her books.

My thanks to Berkley (via Netgalley) for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
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I found it incredibly difficult to care about these characters.  Most of the time when you have a story about an elite group you are able to connect.  I found this group to be whiny and unsympathetic.
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A headstrong girl becoming a woman in the midst of the Kennedy clan.  Based on a fair amount of research, but not telling the whole story (what book could tell anyone's whole story?).  Well written, but it reads as a romance, not as history or biography.
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A solid choice for historical fiction readers. I'll confidently recommend this to fans of White Houses, for example.
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Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele

Even as time passes, the Kennedy family continues to fascinate Americans, and I was excited to have the opportunity to read about Joe Sr. and Rose’s second-oldest daughter Kathleen “Kick”.  I knew virtually nothing about her going into the book, and The Kennedy Debutante provides a glimpse at her personal life and her love story set against World War II.

I think where the book excels is also somewhat my problem with it.  A good portion of the book takes place shortly after Kick is presented at court while her father is the US Ambassador.  She is finding her feet as an adult but still very young. Maher includes a great deal of name dropping and party scenes that are quite detailed, interesting but tedious after a while.  This made the first half of the book drag for me. Once the war becomes the focus, the pace picks up, and I enjoyed Kick’s story, heartbreaking as it is. I wish the author had continued beyond 1944; I wanted to spend more time with Kick in the few short years she had left.

The book is, above all else, a love story.  Two young people who, on the surface, seem a perfect match, but their religious convictions, disapproving families, and the outbreak of war really take their toll.  I admire Kick, a woman ahead of her time. The privileged life she was born into could have left her spoiled and shallow. However, I think Kick was more rebellious and independent, braver than we give her credit.  I appreciate Maher’s depiction of Kick’s struggle with her faith and what her heart wants.

I liked The Kennedy Debutante; I just didn’t love it like I thought I would.  I recommend it to readers interested in the Kennedy family.

*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*
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Camelot aficionados will delight as they fall in love with Kathleen Kennedy's Downton Abbey-esque story. This historical fiction novel features the English "coming out" of Kick, while her father held the post of U.S. Ambassador in England. A new treasure for fans of Melanie Benjamin and Paula McLain.
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The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher is the kind of book I want to read more of. I love a good historical fiction book. This one was so easy to just fall right into and be whisked away to the past. It is all about the life of Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy. She is from THAT Kennedy family. Anyways, so she goes over to England to debut while her father is an ambassador there. Kick falls for England and desperately wants to stay there. She also falls for a man, Billy Harrington, the future duke of Devonshire.

THEN THERE IS AN OBSTACLE IN THE WAY OF THEIR LOVE. Religion. And okay, usually in the books I read, that is not often the obstacle. So I was hooked to see if they would get around it. You see, Kick is Catholic and Billy is Protestant. The book takes on the challenge of the future between people with two different religions. There’s talk about if they have kids, what religion would they be raised in. Should one of them convert? It is just so fascinating and interesting to me, because I am not at all of a particular religious bent.

The audiobook of The Kennedy Debutante is narrated by Julia Whelan. Honestly, I cannot really say anything new about Whelan’s narration. She’s been the narrator for a bunch of books that I have listened to. I have been satisfied by her narration literally every single time. If you’re just getting started with audiobooks, she’s a good narrator to check out.
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I was familiar with the tragic story of Kick Kennedy, and was excited to see a whole novel devoted to her. Unfortunately, I quickly lost interest in the first few chapters. There just didn't seem to be a lot of substance to her story line and her characterization seemed rather bland. I don't know if things got better as the novel progressed, but I just couldn't keep reading. I'm sure the novel may appeal to other readers though.
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A must-read for fans of the Kennedy family. Kit Kennedy has everything, family renown, money, status and social standing. The year of her debutante she meets and falls in love with Billy Hartington. Unfortunately, Kit and the whole Kennedy family are devout Catholics and Billy Hartington is a devout Protestant.

Even as Kit strives to make her own way in the world and forge an identity independent of her family, Kit is unable to release her faith in order to make her relationship with Billy a reality. As England slides towards war, the Kennedy family faces a series of crises and a fall from political favor. Will Kit, desperate to stay in London and be part of a larger cause, and Billy, determined to fight for his country and his title, ever find their way to each other?

This book is perfect for fans of historical fiction and is a well-written and nuanced examination of one of the lesser-known members of the Kennedy family.
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Among the most intriguing of American "royalty" sits the Kennedy family and lively daughter, Kathleen. Through this dramatized telling of a period in her life, we learn that Kathleen (aka Kick) dealt with her own struggled and tragedies as did most members of the famed Camelot family.

This version of her story is intriguing, exciting, and I didn't want to put it down. However, after learning more of her life, I now want to find a nonfiction title to explore the whole truth behind Kick.

I would recommend this to anyone interested in the family but not interested in nonfiction. It's highly entertaining. 

I was given a copy of this book for review by NetGalley. The opinions are mine alone.
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This book was really, really good. I had some vague idea of Kick Kennedy's existence, but I knew nothing about her. I loved learning about her in her own voice, including her experience as the daughter of a diplomat, the sister of a mentally disabled woman and men fighting in WWII, an American in England at a touchy time, a good Catholic girl in love with a Protestant... It was complex and multi-layered and wonderful, told with realism and warmth. It was all great until the end, when with one of my greatest pet peeves, it was as if someone hit the fast forward button and the remaining years of her life vanished. I suppose the focus was supposed to be on her debutante age and the wartime experience, but I felt like there was a lot in both her short return to America and her short return to Europe that would have added to the story. Still, I'd recommend this one. And I might be curious to read a biography of her one day.
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I've read and watched a lot about the Kennedy family, but I had never heard the story of Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy the sister to JFK. The book starts pre-war and gives a bit of background into the Kennedy family living in London.

While living in London Kick was at all the parties and after-hour events. She quickly makes a group of close knit friends and falls in love with a British Protestant. Her family is all too happy to cart her home when the war starts with hopes of finding her a suitable Catholic husband. 

Kick is strong willed and determined to make it on her own. She is also very determined to make it back to London to her love. 

I will warn, that if you are looking for a book with a happy ending this is not the book for you.
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The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher

Publication Date: October 2nd, 2018. Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group

“It was the first time in ages she had felt carried away by something, part of something, that had nothing to do with her family, and she loved it.”

The Kennedy Debutante is the fictionalized story of Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy, the daughter of Joseph and Rose Kennedy, as a young woman. The novel beings with Kick and her sister, Rosemary, being presented to the King and Queen at the debutante ball. It describes party after party as Kick falls in love with Billy Hartington. Kick and Billy are akin Romeo and Juliet: his Protestant family and her staunchly Catholic one do not approve of their relationship. When the war intervenes the question becomes whether Kick and Billy’s relationship will survive or whether they will obey their parents’ wishes. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I have a long-running fascination with the Kennedy family and read Kick Kennedy: The Charmed Life and Tragic Death of the Favorite Kennedy Daughter a few years ago. I love the way that Kerri Maher conveyed her feistiness. Though Kick’s sister Rosemary appears in the book, I wish more pages had been devoted to her. Her lobotomy is one of the worst kept and more intriguing ‘secrets’ of the Kennedy family. Though the pacing of this book is on the slow side, it allowed the author to present a very clear picture of Kick’s life, including her father’s focus on his sons, to the exclusion of his daughters, and Kick’s desire to please her stern mother. Scents are described beautifully in this novel, as is society life in 1930s London. I thought Kerri Maher did a phenomenal job and was surprised to learn it was her debut novel. I look forward to reading more from her in the future. 

Thank you to Net Galley and Berkley Publishing Group for an Advanced Reader Copy of this book.

Grade: B
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