The remarkable life of the vivacious, clever – and forgotten – Kennedy sister, who charmed the English aristocracy and was almost erased from her family history.
The favourite child of Joe Kennedy and favourite sister of Jack, Kick Kennedy was spirited, vivacious and legendary for her charm. When the Kenndys sailed to Britain in 1938 she was presented as a debutante amid the pre-war social whirl of the British aristocracy. Here she met a shy, tall, handsome man called Billy, and, rebelling against family, faith, and country, soon married him. He was William Cavendish, heir to Chatsworth and the Duke of Devonshire, the most eligible bachelor in England. But their days of married bliss proved short, as war would bring tragedy and loss.
Uncovering her spectacular life in full for the first time, Paula Byrne depicts a remarkable woman who bewitched the Churchills, Astors and Mitfords, and yet was almost erased from Kennedy family history.
About the author
Paula Byrne is the author of four successive London Sunday Times top ten bestseller biographies, ‘Perdita: The Literary, Theatrical’, ‘Scandalous Life of Mary Robinson’ (2004), ‘Mad World: Evelyn Waugh’ and the ‘Secrets of Brideshead’ (2009), ‘The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things’ (2013) and ‘Belle: The True Story of Dido Belle’ (2014). Born into a large Liverpool working-class Catholic family of Irish descent, her grandfather and mother were Irish Kennedys. She is founder and chief executive of ReLit, the Bibliotherapy Foundation, a charity devoted to the mental health benefits of reading. She is married to Sir Jonathan Bate and lives in Oxford.
- ‘Byrne conjures such a vivid portrait of her enchanting heroine that one almost feels deprived never having met her’ Daily Mail, Book of the Week
- ‘Byrne is engagingly smitten with her subject … Sentence by sentence, the book is a joy: a fresh take on the exceedingly well-worn theme of the Kennedy family. Byrne recounts the dramas of the end of her life with great pace and a poignancy that is all the more affecting for not being overdone’ Guardian
- ‘Byrne does a fine job rescuing Kick from undeserved obscurity, providing an important chapter to the story of this dazzling doomed dynasty’ The Times
- ‘Sparkling … fast-paced … transfixing’ Sunday Times
- ‘This absolutely enthralling biography is written by an expert hand… Her narrative is deceptively easy and fluid, cleverly belying the enormous weight and variety of her source materials’ Irish Independent
- ‘An exciting, heartbreakingly tense love story’ Kirkus Review
- ‘Written with panache … as engaging as its subject’ Sunday Express
- ‘A fun-loving American charms the English aristocracy with her wit and sangfroid, overcoming prejudice to win the heart of London’s most eligible bachelor … Paula Byrne … recaptures her brief but fascinating story’ Vogue
- ‘This very sad story is at the heart of Paula Byrne’s excellent biography … supported by impressive research’ Financial Times
- ‘Sympathetic and faced-paced … Byrne’s portrait of the Kennedy’s at home is transfixing’ Sunday Times
- ‘A compelling biography … Byrne is to be commended for handling the formidable task with aplomb. She has produced a lively work … allowing [Kick’s] warmth, charisma and legendary vitality to shine through’ Country Life
- ‘Absolutely enthralling … Paula Byrne’s narrative is deceptively easy and fluid cleverly belying the enormous weight and variety of her resource material’ Irish Independent
- ‘An exhilarating portrait of a woman who deserves a place in history’ Stellar Magazine