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The Kennedy Debutante

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A Kennedy Debutante in London before WWII

The Kennedys are a fascinating family. Before WWII they were treated almost as royalty. This comes through clearly when Kick, the oldest Kennedy daughter, embraces pre-war London. Her father, Joe Kennedy, was named ambassador to the Court Of St. James. This opens the highest society doors to Kick, who takes full advantage of it. 

The descriptions of pre-WWII parties at great country houses and jazz clubs in London is worth the price of the book. I loved the atmosphere. Kick makes friends easily and becomes a leader in the younger set. Several young men are interested in courting her, but she loses her heart to Billy Hartington, the future Duke of Devonshire. 

The path for the lovers is not easy. Rose, her mother, is adamant that she marry a Catholic. Billy is Anglican. Joe gets crosswise with the regime in Washington over his support of Hitler. As WWII begins, the Kennedys return to the US and Billy goes off to war. The question is whether the lovers will be able to overcome the obstacles and reunite. 

This is a poignant story of romance, family duty, and religion. The author had the details but she did an excellent job of bringing the conflict and heartache of the young people to life. I so wanted the lovers to get together that I had a hard time resisting reading the end of the book first. 

I highly recommend this book if your interest is the Kennedys, pre-war London, or a gripping romance. 

I received this book from Net Galley for this review.
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"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..."

I have always been fascinated by Kick Kennedy since I found out about her connection to Deborah Mitford, as in, Deborah wouldn't have been the Duchess of Devonshire and Kick would have had her husband, and then shortly thereafter she, hadn't died.
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Stevie‘s review of The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher
Biographical Historical Fiction published by Berkley 02 Oct 18

I’ve had a sneaking fascination with Kick Kennedy for a good while, mainly because of the Chatsworth connection than any particular interest in her birth family; however, while I’ve placed daisy chains on her grave in Edensor churchyard, I’ve not read any of the full-length biographies about her up until now. This latest addition to the few already out there is a novelisation of Kick’s life, rather than the more factual or academic studies waiting on various bookshelves for me to pick up, so I was hoping it would ease me into the topic ahead of more weighty tomes (in tone, if not in actual size).

Our story opens in 1938 with Kick already living in London and about to be presented at Court ahead of her first Season. She’s been well prepared for the big day and is much more composed about the occasion than her sister Rosemary, who has always been the odd one out of this poised, ambitious family. At Court, Kick performs perfectly, although she has to cover for Rosemary, who nearly takes a tumble in front of the King and Queen. Embarrassed for her sister, and worried what her mother will say about the slip-up, Kick nonetheless escapes her family to visit a nightclub with her new upper echelon British friends.

At the club, Kick meets Billy Hartington, son of the Duke of Devonshire, whom she has admired from afar since a previous brief visit to Cambridge two years earlier. Billy, too, is enamoured of Kick, but both are aware how much their families will disapprove of any romance between an American Catholic of Irish descent and a Protestant from one of England’s oldest aristocratic families. Nevertheless, the pair strike up a friendship, which slowly turns into a long drawn-out, on-off courtship, often interrupted by family commitments and overseas trips, until war breaks out and they are forced to decide how to override everyone’s objections and commit to each other instead.

Billy and Kick’s happiness is to be shattered again very soon, but they do at least get a taste of married life together and Kick has a glimpse of what life could be like, were she to one day become the Duchess of Devonshire. Throughout the story we catch glimpses of members of their set with whom I am far more familiar, through the writings of Debo and Andrew Devonshire, and in one case through a very brief conversation over a farm gate.

I loved that no part of Kick’s life, or that of her friends and siblings, was glossed over; not everything she does is popular with those around her, be they British or American, and not all her family’s choices work out in the way they might have been intended. I would have liked to see a little more of what Kick did after the War, although that is at least discussed in an author’s note at the end. That’s my interest in another of the great local families showing through, though, and might not have been in keeping with the tone of the book – or indeed what most readers would have wanted.

All in all, a most excellent debut, and I shall be expecting greatness from the author in the future.

Grade: B
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As enticing as this book sounded, I'm sorry to say it wasn't for me. It felt like the author was trying to show off their research and namedrop as many royals, social cues, and socialites as possible. It didn't feel immersive or natural so I don't have much interest in continuing.
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On the verge of WWII, Joe Kennedy Sr was appointed ambassador and moved to London with his wife, Rose, and their 9 children, Joseph Jr (Joe), John (Jack), Rosemary, Kathleen (Kick), Eunice, Patricia (Pat), Robert (Bobby), Jean, and Edward (Ted). The Kennedy Debutante focused on 18 year old Kathleen, who preferred to be called "Kick." Although Kick enjoys the debutante scene, she is also independent and somewhat rebellious in nature. After falling in love with 20 year old Billy Hartington, the future Duke of Devonshire, their relationship met many obstacles, including parental disapproval, WWII, and the biggest, their religious differences. She was Catholic while he was Protestant, and neither was willing to convert. If they were to marry, in which faith would they raise their children? Would Kick choose her faith and family, or her one true love?

The first half about all of the parties attended and trips taken by Kick moved way too slowly for me, and I wish it would have been cut in half. About halfway through the book, my interest was finally piqued, but overall, the story just wasn't as interesting as I'd hoped. Since I was born after the Kennedy presidency, I have never been overly curious about their family, so that may explain at least part of my apathy. Of course, my heart ached for Kick at the end (I'm not made of ice!), but unfortunately, it just wasn't enough to raise my rating another full star. I did, however, enjoy this debut author's writing style and would try her next one.

Lastly, if anyone knows of a great book about Kick's younger sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who founded the Special Olympics, then please let me know because her life sounds much more intriguing!

I received an advance copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Location: 1938-1944 London, England and NYC
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This is based on the true story of Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy, sister of John F. Kennedy.  This book gives a look into Kathleen's life beginning as a teenager when the family was living in England and she is presented into society.  She has a lot of pressure to represent the family well.  She falls in love with a man who is not Catholic that does not please her mother. There is a lot of information about World War II also.
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The Kennedy Debutante tells the story of one of the lesser known Kennedy children, Kick.  I usually enjoy all things Kennedy; however, while this book does have its moments, overall, I thought it was sort of slow, especially in the middle.  Nevertheless, I wanted to see how the story ended and finished it.

Thank you to NetGalley for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Lindas Book Obsession Review of "The Kennedy Debutante" by @Kerri Maher  Berkley Publishing Group October, 2018

Kerri Maher, Author of "The Kennedy Debutante has vividly described the "Golden World" of the Kennedys in this enchanting, dramatic, romantic, endearing, captivating, intense and riveting novel. The Genres for this novel are Historical Fiction, Fiction, Women's Fiction, with a touch of Romance. The timeline for this novel starts in London in 1938, and is also in the United States, Spain and other European countries during the pre-war and war. The story goes to the past only when it pertains to the characters or events.

Kerri Maher describes her colorful cast of characters as complicated and complex. Kathleen "KICK" Kennedy makes her debut in England the year that her father is the Ambassador to London. Kick is the absolute darling , extremely  sought after among the popular set. She also has the responsibilities of watching out for her older sister, Rosemary, who has some problems. Some of my favorite parts in this novel are the interaction among the Kennedy clan. It is fun watching the interaction with Joe and John, her brothers. Kick's mother is a stern and dominant force in her life.

The Kennedys are Roman Catholic, and that causes conflict for Kick when she falls in love with  Billy Harrington, the future Duke of Devonshire, who comes from a Protestant family. Kick is regarded as the rebellious sister but she questions her loyalty to her family or the man she loves.I would highly recommend this entertaining and enjoyable Historical novel for those readers that enjoy reading about the Kennedys, and the start of World War Two. I received an ARC from NetGalley for my honest review.
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Knowing so little about the private lives of the Kennedy and not knowing Kick, I became so enamored with all the characters and was so captivated by all the emotionally charged events. So well written. Highly recommend!
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The Kennedy Family were/are truly a dynasty in America so I was eager to latch on to this novel about one of the lesser known members of the family. Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy is a young woman torn between wanting to please her family and desiring the excitement of normalcy.
This is an astoundingly good debut novel with characters that leap off from the pages, a decently paced plot that holds interest as well as a lot of research.
Kick definitely crammed a lot into her all-too-brief life and it was a joy to get to know her. This one is well worth the read!
I received an Advance Review Copy. All opinions are my own.
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I have always had a fascination with the Kennedy family and have read quite a few books on the men in the family but not a lot about the women. I was instantly pulled into Kathleen (Kick's) story. Kick lived a short life and although there was a lot of family pressure, she tended to follow her heart. I highly recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and all things Kennedy. The Kennedy Debutante is a mesmerizing debut!
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From what I know of history, this wonderful work of historical fiction is pretty faithful to the facts, and tells the fascinating story of Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy, the high-spirited daughter and sister of the Kennedy clan. The family adored and idolized her for good reason -- she was intelligent, beautiful, and a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately for her, she was born in a time where she really couldn't fully live up to her promise and potential. This is a great book -- romantic, bittersweet, and a fascinating look at the history of the time.
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We enter this book in 1939 as Kathleen (Kick) Kennedy is about to make her debut in English society as the daughter of the US Ambassador. The Catholic faith of this Irish American family is well-known and is a bit of a stumbling block for the British. Thus the stage is set for Kathleen's struggles when she falls in love with a Marquess who is also a staunch Protestant. Both Kathleen and Billy have duties to fulfill for their families and the religious preference in each family is an integral piece of those duties. Kick wrestles with her family expectations and whether the church's are equivalent. Is compromise possible? Will she lose her soul? 

Thank you to Berkley Publishing and NetGalley for a digital ARC of this debut novel.
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The Kennedy Debutante was an absolute pleasure to read! Given all that has been published and produced about this political dynasty, it was refreshing to read a novel detailing the life of one of the lesser known Kennedys, especially one so authentic in feel. This novel is highly evocative, capturing the feelings of two nations on the brink of war and the consequences that had on individuals and in larger society. Though politics must be a factor in any work involving the Kennedy family, the novel provided a realistic glimpse into the personal life of a powerful family and the motivations of the dynamic and captivating Kick. I highly recommend this work!

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free digital copy in return for my honest review.
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I had always wondered about this Kennedy daughter that I hadn't heard much of so when I received the chance to read this book I jumped at it and I wasn't disappointed. It's a well written engrossing story of a lesser known Kennedy daughter who was strong and fascinating to read about it. If you ever wondered about the Kennedys and like a well written story pick this up and prepare to be dazzled. Well done. Happy reading!
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I am normally not someone like reads historical books, but like a lot of people, I am obsessed with the Kennedys, and like to read what I can about them.  This book definitely did not disappoint, and I learned a lot of things I didn’t know.

This book gave me info on one of the Kennedys I have to admit, I didn’t know too much about.  I also find the traditions that started in days gone by to be so interesting.  The way the author writes, I can have a really clear picture of the events, and almost makes me feel like I was watching it first hand.

For anyone interested in the Kennedys that would like to learn more about the family members that are written about much less, I would definitely recommend this book.  It was just so interesting.
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I’ve never heard of Kathleen (Kick) Kennedy before running into this book. I was instantly intrigued and knew without a doubt that I wanted to learn more about Kick.

The story opens on Presentation Day. Kick has been preparing for this day ever since moving to London two months prior. She can hardly wait to be presented in front of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

I loved Kick Kennedy’s strength and enthusiasm. She is adventurous, outspoken, and determined to carve her own path. Her love of London, England shines through loud and clear in the book! It is clearly her home and where she is meant to be. Even during the short time period when she had to return to America, she remained steadfast that her home was London. I admired her drive and persistence to return to the city where her heart resides.

Kick meets the love of her life, Billy, and everything between them seems perfect with one exception – religion. The majority of this book is about Kick and Billy, their love for each other and their struggles due to their incompatible religions. Neither wants to convert to the other religion nor do they want to cause pain for their families. A compromise must lie somewhere, they just need to find it.

For the most part I enjoyed this book and loved learning more about Kick. I did feel it dragged on a bit at times and I would have liked the story to go even further. Kick died quite young and I was surprised the story ended before her untimely death.
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Kitt Kennedy deserves to be remembered and Kerri Maher did a fabulous job through The Kennedy Debutante of bringing her to life.  

I wasn’t that familiar with Kitt Kennedy before reading this novel.  I found her to be a very interesting, vivacious person and I so enjoyed Maher’s portrayal of her life.  I can’t imagine what it was like to be a Kennedy, an American in England on the cusp of World War II and also what it was like to be a woman during that time.  Kennedy was a force to be reckoned with. 

Through Maher’s incredible writing, I understand Kitt’s plight as a young woman drawn to a Protestant man whom she dearly loved.  Kitt tried to retain who she was, remain faithful to her family and religion as well as honoring the love that she felt.  

I received an Advance Review Copy of this book.  All opinions are my own.
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I have to admit that I don’t have much general knowledge about one of JFK’s sisters, Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy. Maybe because she was only twenty-eight years old when she died in 1948.  Maher’s debut novel tackles the elusive subject of the Joseph and Rose Kennedy’s nine children (John was second in line).

When her father was serving as United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Kick made many friends in London and was the "debutante of 1938,” which is probably how Maher decided to title her story. There isn’t a lot about her early years in America in this novel, and that’s okay. It was fun dropping in on the eighteen year old as she is presented to the King and Queen of England.

Broken into three parts, from Spring 1938 through Winter 1944, readers are treated to watching Kick grown into a strong female. She wasn’t as confident as her two older brothers, but she did her best, especially when she went up against her formidable father and her rather harsh mother.

Readers get to watch Kick fall in love with England, even with war rising on the horizon. And readers get to watch as Kick falls in love with Billy Harrington, the future Duke of Devonshire. 

Her family and Billy’s family frowns on their relationship. Kick is almost staunchly Catholic has her devoted mother, while Billy’s family is equally dedicated to their Protestant faith. If the young couple is allowed to marry, Kick must agree to raise any future children as Protestant, even if she herself did not convert.

I felt this novel was rather light-hearted and didn’t seem to have the depth that was needed to make Kick jump off the page. Maybe it’s not fair, but I read Michelle Gable’s “The Summer I Met Jack,” has a much deeper sense of actually knowing all the Kennedy’s personalities. For those reasons, “The Kennedy Debutante” receives 3 out of 5 stars in Julie’s world.
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Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy has been called JFK’s forgotten sister.  The Kennedy Debutante begins when Kick is introduced to English society at the age of 18 and shortly after her father, Joe, Sr. assumes the position of US Ambassador to the United Kingdom.  The remainder of the book follows Kick through her father’s disgrace, her older sister’s difficulties, her romance with an Englishman, and WWII.  

It is obvious that the author, Kerri Maher, has done her research.  But, as I read this book I felt as though I was reading a series of vignettes and in some cases there was very little transition between the scenes.  The author includes many names of the people Kick comes in contact with, some of who became her dearest friends.  At times it seemed to read like a who’s who in British society and that made reading somewhat tedious. The book does gives insight to the Kennedy family dynamics as well as the expectations that high society had for their daughters.  As Kick struggles with her priorities, it is very clear that her Catholicism is her priority, as well as trying to please her family.  Throughout the book there are copious references to her faith and her family’s responsibilities, with Kick constantly seeking guidance and reassurance.

The Kennedy family has often been referred to as “American Royalty” and this book does not dispel that notion.  But, it was a flawed family, with parents that could be both cold and unyielding as well as protective and supportive.

For someone interested in the Kennedy family history, this is yet another book to add to the collection. 
Many thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book for review.
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