My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’ve been wanting to read this for awhile, but hadn’t gotten to it. Last week, I'd finished my book club read and was on Overdrive looking for my next read when I came across this one on my wishlist. It was available so I checked it out. I’m really glad I did!
This book is exactly what I want from historical fiction! I learned something new—a lot, actually! Being a Boomer, I grew up knowing a lot about the Kennedy’s, but while I knew the name ‘Kathleen’, I really didn’t know much about her. In fact, until a few years ago, I think I had her and her older sister, Rosemary, fused into one person in my mind! So this was really an interesting read. The book also propelled me to Google, Wikipedia, etc. in search of more information! And I even picked up two ‘Kick’ Kennedy biographies at the library this weekend! Historical fiction at its best!
The story starts with Kick’s society debut, as she is presented to the King and Queen. I loved reading about the ‘requirements’ of society in the era, and how mother Rose positioned her family to be insinuated into society. In many ways the book reminded me of the ‘rules’ of Gilded Age society that I had just read about in A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts. Kick turns out to be a bit of a rebel, falling in love with a Protestant who would be exactly what her mother was looking for in a son-in-law had he been a Catholic. Her mother, and to a leser extent, her father, go to great links to keep the couple apart. I guess I was a little surprised to learn just how rigid her mother was, not only about this, but about many other things. While she had a reputation as a great mother with an ideal family, that was a smoke and mirrors image. She often placed appearances and her desires before her children’s well-being, at least in this story.
It was also interesting to read about the events leading up to WWII, especially from the perspective of the British. Father Joe Kennedy was the US Ambassodor to Britain at the time, so Kick was in London with her family in the years leading up to the war. One thing that really surprised me was the calm approach Londoners took to the bombings. They were prepared, and it was always in the back of there minds, but they seemed to take it in stride, going about their lives as normally as they could under the circumstances. I guess I’d pictured them as cowering in shelters just waiting for the next bombs to fall. I’m sure I would have!
Really, I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about the book. Rose was not a pleasant person, and of course I didn’t like the ending, but this story is based on fact, and a lot of times facts aren’t happy. If you are curious about Kathleen, a Kennedy afficiando, or just want to read more about the atmosphere in the times leading up to the war, pick up this book! You won’t be sorry!
read Jan 2019
ebook borrowed from library
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