cover image 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

Paula Byrne. Harper, $29.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-229627-6

Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy (1920–1948) was as intelligent, vivacious, and attractive as her older and better known brother, John. Unfortunately, this account from British biographer Byrne (Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice) is neither gossipy enough to be a satisfying celebrity profile nor contextual enough to work as an illuminating woman-of-the-times story. In 1938, at age 18, Kennedy became a celebrity when her father was named ambassador to Great Britain and moved the family to London. That year, she met William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, and they fell in love. Religious differences and the outbreak of WWII kept them apart for a while, though Byrne glosses over the tumultuous European events of 1938–1939. Back in the U.S., Kennedy worked as a reporter for the Washington Times-Herald until she signed on with the Red Cross in 1943 during WWII and went back to England. Kennedy and Hartington married in 1944; she became a marchioness, but her fairy tale life didn’t have a happy ending. Byrne’s story lacks the texture necessary to make this an absorbing read, repeatedly falling into the trap of telling rather than showing. Moreover, she hasn’t convincingly demonstrated why Kennedy is worthy of a full-length biography. Illus. [em](July) [/em]