Reading Matters

‘Kick’ – nicest of JFK’s sibling

“Kick: The True Story of JFK’s Sister and the Heir to Chatsworth” is the latest book about a Kennedy sibling, this one by British writer Paula Byrne. The fourth Kennedy child, Kathleen, was supposedly “the nicest” of the group. She charmed the British, but she alienated her family when she fell in love with and married the son of a virulently anti-Catholic family.

Kick and William Cavendish, the heir apparent of the Duke of Devonshire and Chatsworth, were as star-crossed as the rest of her family. Months after their wedding in 1944, Cavendish was killed in combat, and four years later, Kick was dead in an airplane crash high in France’s Cevennes mountains. She was 28.

Her grief-stricken father Joe Kennedy Sr. was shocked when he examined the contents of the suitcase she’d carried onboard. Kick was clearly heading into a romantic tryst with the dashing Peter Fitzwilliam, whose family owned the largest house in England – 365 rooms on 22,000 acres.

Jack Kennedy was listening to ‘Finian’s Rainbow’ when he heard the news. He wept.

“As they had done before and would do again,” writes Byrne, “when tragedy struck, the Kennedys gathered at Hyannis Port to mourn, and to take solace from each other.”

Fabulous black-and-white photos.

Dannye: dpowell@charlotteobserver.com

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