Tuesday, April 30, 2019


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

1. What are you currently reading 

Kick Kennedy: The Charmed Life and Tragic Death of the Favorite Kennedy Daughter by Barbara Leaming. Kathleen ("Kick") was the second daughter of Joseph and Rose Kennedy. She had a style and personality that naturally drew people to her. A close confidante of her brother Jack, she was sophisticated beyond her years and yet still very much the Boston convent girl.

When Joseph Kennedy was named ambassador to England, Kick took London by storm. Fleet Street deemed her "The Little American Girl," and published photos of her on society pages, attending embassy parties and doing charity work. Young aristocratic men flocked to her, and that's where the trouble starts.

For in the 1930s and 40s, Catholic girls were expected to marry Catholic boys. All the boys in Kick's London set were titled and Anglican. Wartime heightened passions, and she falls for England's most eligible bachelor, William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington. Or "Billy" as he was to Kick. It's a recipe for heartache.

This isn't Leaming's first book on the Kennedys. She brings a sure hand to the subject matter, inclusive but not sensational. She places her reader in London society and the Kennedy family at a very particular time. Even though I know the barebones of Kick's story, I am enjoying this book and learning from it.

2. What did you recently finish reading?  
I Am Not Ashamed by Barbara Payton. It's hard to imagine a life less similar to Kick Kennedy's. As the book opens, Barbara Payton was a 35-year-old prostitute, with hole in her smile where her front tooth used to be and a long scar across her stomach where a john knifed her. In the afterward, we learn she died at age 39.  

Barbara was a real woman, a tabloid staple in the 1950s. She was once a natural beauty who quickly found success in Hollywood. She put more effort into offscreen partying than onscreen performance, and consequently threw her career away.

Barbara didn't think about learning her craft, or being a mother to her seldom mentioned son. She concerned herself with clubs, furs and jewelry. Relationships for her were strictly transactional. For a book saturated with sex, there's very little passion and no joy on these pages.

Barbara was one of those people who excused her own bad behavior by saying, "At least I'm honest." Her road to an early grave was inexorable and excruciating. This book, while compulsively readable, was fascinating but not likeable. I'm not sorry I read it, but I don't recommend it.

3.  What will you read next?  
Maybe another biography? Or a mystery. My TBR pile is stacked dauntingly high with both.


  1. I don't read many biographies, but I read one on the Kennedys years ago, and it was both tragic and fascinating. https://teripolen.com/2019/05/01/www-wednesdays-what-am-i-reading-amreading-6/

  2. I am a fan of all things Kennedy, so Kick Kennedy: The Charmed Life and Tragic Death of the Favorite Kennedy Daughter is now going on my list. Thanks for sharing.

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