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: 9780062296276
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/05/2016
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.30(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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