Kick: The True Story of JFK's Sister and the Heir to Chatsworth

Kick: The True Story of JFK's Sister and the Heir to Chatsworth

by Paula Byrne


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Filled with a wealth of revealing new material and insight, the biography of the vivacious, unconventional—and nearly forgotten—young Kennedy sister who charmed American society and the English aristocracy, and would break with her family for love.

Encouraged to be “winners” from a young age, Rose and Joe Kennedy’s children were the embodiment of ambitious, wholesome Americanism. Yet even within this ebullient group of overachievers, the fourth Kennedy child, the irrepressible Kathleen, stood out. Lively, charismatic, extremely clever, and blessed with graceful athleticism and a sunny disposition, the alluring socialite fondly known as Kick was a firecracker who effortlessly made friends and stole hearts.

Moving across the Atlantic when her father was appointed as the ambassador to Great Britain in 1938, Kick—the “nicest Kennedy”—quickly became the family’s star. Despite making little effort to fit into British high society, she charmed everyone from the beau monde to Fleet Street with her unconventional attitude and easygoing humor. Growing increasingly independent, Kick would also shock and alienate her devout family by falling in love and marrying the scion of a virulently anti-Catholic family— William Cavendish, the heir apparent of the Duke of Devonshire and Chatsworth. But the marriage would last only a few months; Billy was killed in combat in 1944, just four years before Kick’s own unexpected death in an airplane crash at twenty-eight.

Paula Byrne recounts this remarkable young woman’s life in detail as never before, from her work at the Washington Times-Herald and volunteerism for the Red Cross in wartime England; to her love of politics and astute, opinionated observations; to her decision to renounce her faith for the man she loved. Sympathetic and compelling, Kick shines a spotlight on this feisty and unique Kennedy long relegated to the shadows of her legendary family’s history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062296283
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/02/2017
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 409,599
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Paula Byrne is the critically acclaimed author of five biographies, including Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice, The Real Jane Austen, and Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead. She lives in Oxford, England, with her husband, the academic and biographer Jonathan Bate.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Kicking the Surf ix

1 Rose and Joe 1

2 A Beautiful and Enchanting Child 8

3 Forbidden Fruit 16

4 Hyannis Port 21

5 Bronxville 26

6 Convent Girl 30

7 Muckers and Trouble 36

8 Mademoiselle Pourquoi 43

9 Gstaad and Italy 49

10 Travels with my Mother: Russia and England 59

11 Politics and Europe Revisited 66

12 The Ambassador 73

13 At the Court of St James's 76

14 'I Get a Kick Out of You' 80

15 The Debutante 85

16 Lords a-Leaping 90

17 'A Merry Girl' 95

18 Billy 99

19 The Riviera 103

20 Peace for our Time 109

21 Chatsworth 113

22 St Moritz and Rome 120

23 The Gathering Storm 126

24 The Last Hurrah 130

25 'This Country is at War with Germany' 136

26 The Personality Kids 141

27 Operation Ariel 144

28 The Fourth Hostage 149

29 Billy and Sally 153

30 Kick the Reporter 157

31 Lobotomy 163

32 Scandal 170

33 'Did You Happen to See…' 175

34 Red Cross Worker of World War II 181

35 Coffee and Doughnuts 187

36 Sister Kick 191

37 Girl on a Bicycle 197

38 Parties and Prayers 201

39 Rosemary Tonks 208

40 Agnes and Hartie 213

41 Telegrams and Anger 218

42 'I Love You More Than Anything in the World' 226

43 The Marchioness of Harrington 231

44 Operation Aphrodite 235

45 Billy the Hero 243

46 'Life is So Cruel' 251

47 The Widow Hartington 261

48 Politics or Passion? 268

49 Joy She Gave Joy She Has Found 276

Epilogue 285

Acknowledgements 289

Sources 293

Notes 297

Picture Credits 327

Index 329

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Kick: The True Story of JFK's Sister and the Heir to Chatsworth 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It still interesting v
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
It seems to be the time for books about the Kennedy sisters. Recently, Rosemary: The Hidden Daughter by Kate Clifford Lawson was published and now Paula Byrne's Kick, about Kathleen Kennedy is on the shelves. Not much has been written about Kathleen, the fourth child of Rose and Joseph Kennedy, better known as Kick. She, Joe Jr. and Jack were thick as thieves growing up together. When Joseph Kennedy was named U.S. Ambassador to England, Kick began to blossom. She loved their time in England and when WWII was looming over England, the Kennedy clan returned to America much to Kick's dismay. She had fallen in love with Billy Hartington, the son of the Duke of Devonshire and Chatsworth. The Kennedys were the embodiment of good Catholics and Billy's family were from the Church of England and historically hated Catholics. Though they were madly in love, their marriage would be problematic for all. Kathleen returned home and got a job working at a Washington DC newspaper, and pining for Billy. She found a way back to England as a volunteer for the Red Cross, where she and Billy rekindled their love. Although she risked her mother's wrath, Kick accepted Billy's marriage proposal and married him outside of her deeply felt Catholic faith. They were married for only a few months when Billy was killed in combat. Kick was devastated. She had lost her brother Joe in the war and her brother Jack was nearly killed when his PT-109 boat was destroyed in the Pacific theater. She fought through the pain and eventually began a relationship with Peter Fitzwilliam, a married man. Kick and Peter were killed in a plane crash outside of Paris in 1948. The first half of the book is filled with names, so many that it made my head spin. The book came to life for me in the second half, when Kick goes to England with the Red Cross. Byrne concentrates on Kick more, and the people around her less, and that strengthens the book for me. Not much is known about Kick, or Rosemary, so these two books give us insight into these two ladies from America's most famous family. We see the strife between Rose and Kick over Kick's willingness to marry outside her faith, and Joseph's strong love and belief in his daughter to make her choice, though he disagreed with her. I also liked reading about Kick's job in DC, how she made her way as a curious, intelligent young woman. Her relationship with her brother Jack was an important part of her life, and the death of his two closest siblings just a few years apart must have impacted Jack in a powerful way. I recommend Kick for fans of the Kennedy family, as well as for anyone who likes a memoir about strong women.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a guy