It is almost impossible to fathom the minds of publishers. Why another book on Kick Kennedy? In 1984 Alastair Forbes, he of the long sentences, reviewed a biography of her by Lynne McTaggart and suggested that Kick merited no more than perhaps a long article. Since then, she has featured prominently in Laurence Leamer’s The Kennedy Women and Amanda Smith’s Hostage to Fortune. Paula Byrne’s book arrived for review under strict embargo, but simultaneously Barbara Leaming has published her own life of Kick Kennedy (based on extensive interviews, possibly undertaken when researching other Kennedy books). Clearly in this dismal time for Establishment biographies, linking the Kennedy name to the dukes of Devonshire and the wider Cavendish family appeals to publishers seeking to capitalise on the Downton Abbey effect. Throw in some scandal and tragedy, and off you go.
Kathleen Kennedy, known as Kick, was a fun-loving girl, the favourite sister of Jack and close to her elder brother Joe. We know about the parents – the successful and philandering father, Joe, American ambassador to Britain from 1938 to 1940 and a supporter of appeasement, and the matriarch, Rose,