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Summary

The remarkable life of the vivacious, clever - and forgotten - Kennedy sister who charmed the English aristocracy and was almost erased from her family history.

When Kathleen Kennedy sailed to England after her father had been appointed ambassador to Great Britain in 1938, her wit, aloofness and sexual charisma at once became the source of endless fascination for the British public.

Kick became the star of the family, and the press loved her, London magazine Queen headlining her as 'America's Most Important Debutante'. Her meeting at a summer garden party with a shy, tall, handsome man called Billy who, it transpired, was the heir to the Duke of Devonshire and Chatsworth, the most eligible bachelor in England, became first an intrigue and soon a scandal for the Kennedys. She was Catholic and he an Anglican. But Kick had fallen in love with Billy - and with England.

In 1944 they were married. In September Billy was killed in combat with the British army. Widowed as Lady Hartington, Kathleen Kennedy remained in England after the loss of her husband until her own tragic death.

In Kick, Paul Byrne tells the story of a woman who was more than simply the second sister of Jack, Bobby and Ted: a feisty and unique product of two countries, she was the force of personality the Kennedys rarely mentioned, a life long hidden from the legendary family history.

©2016 Paula Byrne (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"A perceptive and energetic guide.... Bold, fast-moving and accessible." ( Daily Telegraph)
"Engaging, compelling, a delightful and engrossing book." ( Sunday Times)
"Brilliantly illuminating...riveting." (Simon Callow, Guardian)
"The portrait of that emerges is sparklingly multi-faceted, catching the light in intriguing ways." ( Mail on Sunday)

What members say

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Loved it

Would you listen to Kick: The True Story of Kick Kennedy, JFK's Forgotten Sister and the Heir to Chatsworth again? Why?

Yes. It's made me curious about the Kennedy family and Chatsworth so would return to it after reading more about them.

What did you like best about this story?

The perfect mix of information and nostalgia. A sensitive account.

What about Antonia Beamish’s performance did you like?

Brilliant. Right pace, tone and got the various accents spot on in my opinion.

Any additional comments?

My favourite biography to date. Will be reading/listening to more from Paula Byrne.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • kk
  • 23-07-16

Irritating narration

This is an interesting and revealing story but it's repetitive and badly edited; you hear the same chunk repeated within the same chapter and the author also pads it out a lot. The narration is flat but the most irritating thing is her inconsistency with the same word and incorrect pronunciation of common phrases and names. One that sticks out is née (born) which she pronounces like knee, but there are other errors that an editor should have corrected.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Liz
  • 20-03-18

Fascinating sidelight on the Kennedy family

The upbringing of the children is really interesting, especially the roles the parents allotted themselves. Strange though, that Joe Kennedy's part in Prohibition and the fortune he made from it is not mentioned. A minor irritant is the way Cliveden is mispronounced throughout - I would have thought an English narrator would know that it is Cliv-den, not Clive-den.

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  • Robyn
  • 21-05-17

Mediocre

Paula Byrne has written a book which is readable enough, although it wasn't a 'page-turner'. She documents Kathleen's early life of privilege and everything money could buy, and clearly brings out her vivacity and charisma. The tone inevitably changes as Kick's life is blighted by the various tragedies which she experienced toward the end of her short life. I had two problems with Beamish's narration. 1. Some narrators are a pleasure to listen to and some are not - Beamish for me is in the latter category but that's merely subjective and probably irrelevant. 2. Her mispronunciations really detract and distract from the content. Those I committed to memory in my irritation were Maginot, egregious, Cliveden, beguine, Roosevelt (sometimes rooz and sometimes rose), and mores (as in societal norms). Anyway, I think I learned more about Kathleen Kennedy from Barbara Parry's 'Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch' (audible.com version).