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The Kennedy Debutante

The Kennedy Debutante (2018) tells the story of Kennedy’s younger sister, Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy, starting when the family moved to England when their father became ambassador in the late ‘30s.

While there, Kick gets the privilege of being presented into society. And this is just the beginning of her whirlwind tour of English society. She meets Billy Hartington, the future Duke of Devonshire and begins to fall in love. And what a coo that would be, her the daughter of an Irish-American father. But Kick’s family is so very Catholic and Billy’s very much Protestant, being of English nobility.

Kick thinks these are the worst of her problems, but every day the war draws closer and closer to England as Hitler crusades to take over all of Europe. (Well, him and Stalin).

All around her family, signs of war are drawing closer. Air raid shelters are being built and the talk everywhere is of whether England should come to the rescue of the Europeans or remain neutral. Then, all too soon, the news comes that Poland has been invaded. Kick’s cushy English life as the daughter of the American ambassador falls apart . She’s quickly torn away from everyone and everything in England as she and all of her siblings are shipped back to America and – in most cases – off to school.

But not Kick. After getting that taste of life in England, she’s not about to give it all up to fulfill her mother’s dream of her attending a Catholic college and falling in love with a good wealthy Catholic young man. So she heads off to Washington to become a reporter, instead. But her thoughts are constantly on England and Billy. She is bound and determined to find a way back, with or without her parents’ blessings.

Then, of course, the war hits America as well. Both Joe and Jack and long since enlisted in the Navy and both are anxious to head out and prove themselves by defending their country. Meanwhile, Billy is talking of life on the front lines. And, yet, she’s still stuck in America.

When all else seems to fail, Kick decides that she, too, can serve her country – even if it means donning a uniform, herself. Finally, after four long years, she finds herself back in England. But this time, not as the daughter of the American ambassador, but as part of the American Red Cross.

Yet absolutely nothing has really been settled with Billy Hartington, except for their love for each other. Billy is still Protestant and in line to be Duke. And is still very much an Irish-American Catholic. They certainly cannot marry without one of them breaking with their Church.

Eventually, Kick and Billy decide that they will not allow their different religions to stand in their way. But it’s too late for a happy marriage because, as always, the war gets in the way, first claiming Joe’s life, then Billy’s. The war has managed to take just about everything that was most important to her.

The Kennedy Debutante is definitely a fun novel if you want to more about President Kennedy’s family, or in particular his favorite sister, Kick. He and Joe do make a few appearances, but the novel is about Kick, predominately about her falling in love with Billy Hartington. Overall, it was an enjoyable read and it was actually easy to relate Kick and her hopes and dreams. I gave the novel 4 stars, mostly because of some glaring inaccuracies, mostly regarding her siblings. 

Genre: Historical Fiction

Classification: Adult

Setting: England & America


Goodreads: The Kennedy Debutante


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