Author(s): Paula Byrne
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.
'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 '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 '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
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.