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Remembering Kick Kennedy

7430d0d0-45db-414a-9645-f84c2c6b9aedThe Kent Memorial Library in Kent, Connecticut is pleased to announce that Saturday, April 30 at 2:00 p.m. in the Reading Room. Kent resident and acclaimed biographer, Barbara Leaning will be discussing and signing her newly published book (April 2016) Kick Kennedy: The Charmed Life and Tragic Death of the Favorite Kennedy Daughter. The book reveals the story of Kick’s glamorous and tragic life, which she lived as part of the vanishing world of the British aristocracy—a fascinating world much like that portrayed in the fictional Downton Abbey.

Based on intimate interviews with many of the major players, KICK KENNEDY is the story of how Joe Kennedy’s favorite daughter and JFK’s closest sibling found another world for herself outside of the confines of her family’s legacy. On a trip to England, Kick fell in love with the world of the British aristocracy and was unexpectedly embraced by its usually closed off young cousinhood. In this stuffy realm of arcane rituals and rules, charming, fun-loving and outspoken Kick was welcomed as a fresh wind on a sweltering summer day. Kick would come of age in this spectacular world of fairy tale palaces, dukes and duchesses, exclusive country house weekends, wild rich boys, political upheaval, and family dramas. It was here that she would also meet her great love, Billy Cavendish, eldest son and heir of the Duke of Devonshire.

Although the war and her parents’ demands would force Kick to return to the States, she focused all her energies on finding a way to return to England and eventually made her way back to London as part of the Red Cross. Reunited with Billy, she would marry him, despite her mother’s outrage that she was marrying outside of her Catholic faith and causing “a blow to the family prestige.” Kick’s single-minded resolve to marry the man of her choice and live life as she wanted, would lead to heartache and tragedy as over time she would witness the aristocratic way of life she so cherished crumble, and the war would bring her immeasurable losses, including the death of her brother Joe, the only family member who supported her marriage to Billy, and Billy’s unimaginable death just months after their wedding. Kick’s own tragic fate sometime later would find the only Kennedy at her British graveside to be her father.

Barbara Leaming has spent more than 15 years researching and writing about the Kennedys and the inner reaches of the British aristocracy.  She conducted extensive and intimate interviews with many of the key players in Kick’s life, and the result is an insider’s account of a story set in a world largely closed to outsiders. It is a story told from the perspective of those who not only saw Kick’s story unfold, but were the critical players in that unfolding. Leaming interviewed many people who knew Kick, including Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire and the last of the famous Mitford sisters, as well as Billy’s brother, Andrew, the 11th Duke of Devonshire.”

BARBARA LEAMING is the author of three New York Times bestsellers, including her most recent book Jacquelie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.  Leaming’s previous book, Churchill Defiant, received The Emery Reves Award from the International Churchill Centre.  Her groundbreaking biography of America’s 35th President, Jack Kennedy: The Education of a Statesman was the first to detail the lifelong influence of British history and culture, especially of Winston Churchill, on JFK.  Her articles have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, the Times of London and other periodicals.  She lives in Connecticut.

Her book will be available for purchase and signing. This event is free & open to public. Please register. For more information, call 860-927-3761 or go to kentmemoriallibrary.org.

The Kent Memorial Library’s mission is to enrich the lives of individuals and the community by providing materials, programs, and services to encourage reading, learning and imagination.  The Library is located at 32 North Main Street, Kent, Connecticut.