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The Kennedy Debutante

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Kerri Maher flings the cobwebs off arid history texts as she unveils the truth of late ‘30s England in THE KENNEDY DEBUTANTE. Told through the lively eyes of Ambassador Joe Kennedy’s second daughter, Kick, this fictionalized bio gives a snapshot in time as vivacious as the deb herself. Highly recommended for anyone who loves history, romance and biography as revealed through the chiaroscuro of an artist. 5/5

Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the review copy.

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The Kennedy family lore tends to highlight the boys; this book about the middle daughter offered a different view into the famous family. While it is a fictionalized account, the author notes give a brief history of life after the novel ends. On par with my experience this summer, this historical fiction left me knowing more than I did before. Very nice book.
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What a fascinating book about someone I knew nothing about, although I live in the Boston area and am surrounded by Kennedy stories. The whole setting was something else I know little about, the debutante scene with people for whom war was mostly an interruption to their life-style of parties, social engagements, and charity functions. That Kick was able to rise above all that and carve out a life for herself was impressive and clearly not easy. I also appreciated her struggle to deal with the conflicts that arose when, as a strict Catholic, she fell in love with a Protestant. All these themes were woven together seamlessly to create a story that kept my attention all the way through.
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I knew that there was a Kennedy sister who passed away in a plane crash because she was a friend of the Mitford sisters, not because I'm a Kennedy fan. I enjoyed this book because it was told from "Kick"'s point of view, and shows that she was well aware of the faults within her family. Heartbroken over her sister Rosemary's fate, and over her father's stance on WWII, she defied her family to forge a life of her own. Well written and enjoyable.
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The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher, introduces Kathleen, fourth of nine children in the Kennedy clan. Presented to London society in the fall of 1938, Kathleen won over the chilly British with her sunny smile and enthusiasm. The Kennedy Debutante was a smashing success. She loved London, and loved the friends she made during her father's tenure as British ambassador from 1938-1940.

The legend of Joe Kennedy's male children is a well-known part of American history. The Kennedy men each pursued the dream of service, leadership, and excellence Joe Kennedy encouraged. Joe Jr. was supposed to be president, but was killed in WWII. Those dreams were transferred to John F. Kennedy, who was elected and then assassinated. Robert Kennedy was next in line, assassinated during his bid for the presidency. Teddy Kennedy's reputation never overcame the Chappaquiddick incident entirely, but he served his state with distinction for years.

The  lives of the Kennedy daughters, while just as fascinating, have been less explored. In this historical fiction, Kerri Maher introduces us to Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy, one of the five Kennedy daughters, and provides a view of the life of a Kennedy female. This lively story follows Kick from the time of her father's ambassadorship in England in 1940 through her marriage to Billy and his subsequent death in WWII.

Kathleen, or Kick as she was known, was not considered a true beauty. Nevertheless, she was gregarious and charming enough to be deemed the debutante of the year in 1939 London. The author provides a glimpse of life for the upper crust British society, while the Hitler looms in the background. Kathleen not only falls in love with bustling, vibrant London, she meets Billy Cavendish early on and is smitten. They attend parties, jazz club outings, county hunt weekends at posh family estates, all while becoming better acquainted. Mind you, dating then was not as dating is now. There were always groups of people, and married couples would accompany on these outings as chaperones. The girls all knew to watch out for the young bucks labeled N-SIT (not safe in taxis).

Kathleen was a devoted Catholic, and her growing love for Billy  presented an almost insurmountable problem with both their families due to religion. The question of marriage out of faith is a central problem throughout the story. Kathleen researches her options in regards to marrying an Anglican, illustrating her determination, love and stubbornness. Her parents are adamant that she should marry a nice, Irish Catholic American boy. Kick ultimately follows the path of her own choosing.

Billy, or Major William John Robert "Billy" Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, as he was formally known, falls just as hard for Kick as she does for him. Throughout this love story he remains an unflappable "good chap." At one point during their 5 year on and off again courtship, while separated by the war, he becomes engaged to another woman. He breaks it off quickly when he realizes his still strong feelings for Kick. They reunite in May of 1944 when Kick defiantly travels back to England from the US, A quiet civil marriage takes place and  the couple enjoys five wedded weeks together. Then, Billy returns to the front lines of the war, and Kick returns to the US to wait for him. Sadly, Billy dies in battle four months later.

The other Kennedy children are not significant characters to the story line, However, Kathleen did spend time with her older two brothers in England and the US. Joe Jr and John both travelled with Kick in the same social circles. Interestingly, both brothers provide relationship advice while involved in their own tangled situations. The most intriguing sibling is Rosemary, who exhibits signs of an emotional or mental disorder. She and Kathleen are close, but Rosemary's behaviour becomes increasingly erratic. Joe Kennedy arranges a medical treatment with tragic results, and Rosemary disappears from the family.

Kathleen's relationship with her parents becomes rocky as she asserts her own will regarding marriage. Joe considers Kick to be his favorite daughter, and appears accepting of her decision. The author portrays Rose Kennedy as a stereotypical wealthy mother, whose ambitions ride on the marriage choices of daughters, not on the life a daughter crafts for herself. Each parent deals with Kick's defiance differently, but family ties are not severed.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and especially appreciated the notes relating to the author's research. Historical fiction does not generally employ footnotes and research notes. However, Kerri Maher does detail some of her research as well as differentiating between actual living characters and those she added for narrative purposes. The Kennedy family saga is fascinating, and the story of Kick's life adds one more layer of intrigue and tragedy. This lesser known Kennedy has received the literary treatment she deserves for her own life story. The narrative ends with Kick returning to London for good. Be sure to read the Author's Note to learn about Kick's years after the war.

Many thank yous to NetGalley for the ARC download provided in exchange for this unbiased review. The Publication date for The Kennedy Debutante is October 2, 2018.
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When you think of the Kennedy family, you often think of the well known Kennedy’s. JFK Jr. Jackie. Robert. JFK. I had no idea that there were 9 Kennedy children, and specifically one that had such a great life story and one that was told so well. Kathleen “Kit” Kennedy was the 4th Kennedy child and the story centers around her and her family’s time in England before the war started. Part love story, part struggle with personal faith, you learn about the Kennedys from a far different perspective in this novel. 

Though at times her religious struggle felt repetitive, and drawn out, I found the novel interesting, as it sounds included many facts about the family, as well as about Kit and Rosemary, the oldest Kennedy, who I didn’t even know existed!  A quick and fascinating read!!
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Starting with Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy’s debut into London society, this novel envisions the life of the glamourous Kennedy daughter from her father’s debut as ambassador to London in 1938 through the end of World War II.  Despite what the press may say, not all in Kick’s life is as shiny as it seems. Kick longs to have her own life, preferably in the city she came to love.  She is eager to escape a strict regimen organized by her parents and the antics of her older brothers.  Though she loves her older sister, Kick is tired of having to help keep an eye on Rosemary due to the elder sister’s behavior.  Still, she attends parties with the British of her class and becomes good friends with many, including Debo Mitford.  She also finds herself falling for Billy Hartington, the future Duke of Devonshire, while knowing their differences in faith would prevent the union.  Few see or understand her struggles.

When the outbreak of war forces Kick from London, she does all she can to return.  First, she took a job at a newspaper in Washington, D.C., then eventually the Red Cross.  In both positions, Kick must provide she can stand on her own two feet.  Upon her eventual return to Britain, Kick must face the biggest struggle for the future she desires, that of her faith.  Could she, a devout Catholic, marry her one true love, a Protestant?  If so, how would that change her life?

As a whole, the novel was well-written and well-researched.  This led to a wide array of details included, about not only Kick and her family’s lives but also the era.  Making the novel better was that these details were effortlessly incorporated into the flow of the prose.  Mahler states in the author’s note that she used a plethora of biographies and primary source documents stored at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in her research.  Readers will also gain an insight not only to Kick’s life, but that of her closest family members (Joe, Sr., Joe, Jr, Jack, Rose, and Rosemary), and their associated struggles.  Kick’s struggle to decide the best path in life for herself was at the forefront of the novel and readers rode the same emotional tidal wave as Mahler envisions Kick did.  In its essence, this novel is a coming-of-age story.
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Kathleen, Kick Kennedy is ready for her life to start after years in Convent Schools and London, where her father is Ambassador seems the perfect place. After a newsworthy presentation at Court she finds a group of friends and sets out to find her life in prewar London. Her family, her Father's politics and their Roman Catholicism create obstacles that Kick must conquer to be true to herself. A story of a strong, independent woman that struggles with family ties and expectations to create the life she wants.
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The Kennedy Debutante was a compelling and intriguing book, deliciously historical and morally affirming. I thoroughly enjoyed the historical aspects of this book, mingled with what the family life of the Kennedy's must have been like.  As a complete Kennedy geek, the moment I saw this title I knew I had to read it. 
Even though this is fiction, it warmed my heart seeing the Kennedy's, up-close way; this playful, close-knit family who will always have my heart. There are not many books on Kathleen Kennedy, I think there are two others, both non-fiction.
 So for me, this book shed a lot of light on what 'Kick' Kennedy's life must have been like. Her relationship with her parents, brothers and sisters, the darker moments of her life, and the most joyous moments too. I knew next to nothing about Kathleen going into this book and appreciate the historical accuracy the author took in writing this.  It was compelling, to say the least, and emotional reading parts of Kathleen story, especially touching was her devotion to her faith and family. If the United States ever had a royal family, it was the Kennedy's. 

Her Father was ambassador to England for a few years leading up to WWII, and he was stationed there with his family, so Kick grew to love England as her home. Even with the cloud of the oncoming storm of war, she tried everything she could to stay. During that time she met William "Billy" Cavendish, the next Duke of Devonshire. They soon were inseparable and quickly felt that they were both falling in love.  This book tells their love story and details their involvement over the years. The expectations of family, and the hazards of settling for less than what you really want. 
Her spirit resounded most with me, her determination and her will, the way she fought for what she knew she wanted. Even if it wasn't the thing to do, even if no one around her believed she could do it. That was Kick. Her spirit and will are what makes her an excellent heroine for a historical novel, this book was a joy to read and I couldn't stop reading it. 
The strong themes of faith, the Kennedy's where Catholics, was compelling. I'm amazed how Kick never strayed from it and went towards it in times of need, rather than away. Her faith would come under fire later on and even then she stayed true. And she remained Catholic and devoted to her faith for the rest of her life.
 The only thing I didn't like about this book was the way it pitted Joe Jr., and Jack against each other, and how jealous Joe was of Jack, which didn't make sense to me. But that's just me personally. Everything else was just great and I loved every minute of this book. This book was gripping, sad, pure joy, and intriguing and the author even saved me the trouble of googling Kathleen Kennedy, the Author's note was hilarious. Anyone who has the stamina to write a book about one of the Kennedy's deserves a standing ovation. Bravo!
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Until the author''s  notes described the research and actual writings, events that were incorporated into the story, it seemed as though I was reading a romance novel.  Looking back on the story from this point of view changed my perception of the book.  Would recommend to others.
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Excellent read... kept me up last last night finishing it, and crying! I thought I found a slight error (Catholic mass on Saturday night) and had to google it!
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The Kennedy Debutante is a fabulous read about a fascinating American family. Kathleen Kennedy was an energetic soul who led a spirited life. Raised as a strict Catholic in a traditional Irish American family, "Kick" found herself at odds with her parents when she fell in love with a Protestant aristocrat and chose to make her home an ocean away from them. Much has been written about the Kennedy family, but The Kennedy Debutante is a stellar piece of Historical Fiction, focused on one woman's too short life. Not to be missed.
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I thought this book was okay, since I have never read anything about Kathleen Kennedy. So, it was interesting to find out more about her life, the years in England and her relationship with her family. I thought the writing could have been better - I never connected with or felt much for any of the characters, even though these were real people. I think there are many who will love this book, but for me it was just okay.
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It was refreshing reading a book about a female Kennedy for a change. I've read many books about the male members of the Kennedy family so hearing about Kathryn was refreshing. I enjoyed her antics, her loyalty to friends and family but most of all I enjoy hearing about what she thought and felt. 

Kathryn or kick as her friends and family call her was very well rounded and educated. I liked she was as fun-loving as she was determined to stay true to herself. 

Overall an enjoyable read and I highly recommend it for a great summer read.
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This is a historical fiction on the life of Kathleen Kennedy. She was the second oldest daughter of the Kennedy clan. She was strong, determined, loyal and faithful. Because of these attributes she finds herself in situations where she is forced to choose what she deems right. She is a devout Catholic. So is the rest of her family. She can see the double standards that the girls have to follow and get brothers don't.  She marries the young man she had dated of and on. He's is Protestant. Her family are devastated. Her oldest brother Joe Sr. is on her side and offers his support.  I can't begin to share this book with you that gives credit to the Author for her impeccable writing of this story. It's heartwarming, heartbreaking and shows unbelievable talent for this Author. Strongly recommend!
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I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I enjoyed the novel.   The historical facts are interesting.  A sad retelling of an interesting young woman's life.
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I had the opportunity to read this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. What a delightful novel. I knew only peripherally about the sisters of the Kennedy clan, their famous brothers hogging the spotlight. I hadn't looked her up until I was almost done with the book so I didn't know what happened to her.  Yet another Kennedy tragedy and she coincidentally died like her famous nephew John Jr. So many years later. 

What I liked: I enjoyed the voice the author used telling the story with Kick's voice.  There was nothing forced or over the top. I can now imagine what it would have been like to be Rose's daughter especially when she waited 4 years to marry her dearest love. I assume she was as close with her brothers as was portrayed and this I loved. I also enjoyed the glimpse into upper crust London society of the time. Kick sounds by this account like she was a captivating young woman. 

What I didn't like: the book ended right after Billy and Joe were killed. It would have been interesting to include the time post that event leading up to her death but herbals the author didn't find those years as interesting.
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This book was excellent from the first page to the last.  Even the two afterwords were interesting and indispensable. Knowing just the highlights of Kick’s life and death, I was glad to have her story filled in. The characters on both sides of the ocean were alive and I celebrated and cried along with them. I will recommend this book to my friends.
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Although I knew the stories of Joe Jr., Rosemary and Kathleen (Kick) Kennedy, I really enjoyed this telling.  The author did a fine job of combining fact and fiction. She did her research and also was very imaginative concerning the dilemmas the family faced. The sense of place was spot-on.  A very enjoyable read.
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American dynasty meets English nobility. A wonderfully told story of the young adult life of Kathleen Kennedy in the years leading up to World War II. Experience the challenges, decisions and pressures Kick faced in her search for independence and love. Kerri Maher seamlessly delivers a glimpse into pre war London; war austerity, and the family pressures of “growing up Kennedy”.
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