Description - The Importance of Being Kennedy by Laurie Graham
A brilliant novel by Laurie Graham set in wartime London, which follows Kick Kennedy, sister of future US President JFK, as she takes London society by storm. Nora Brennan is a country girl from Westmeath. When she lands herself a position as nursery maid to a family in Brookline, Massachusetts, she little thinks it will place her at the heart of American history. But it's the Kennedy family. In 1917 Joseph Kennedy is on his way to his first million and he has plans to found a dynasty and ensure that his baby son, Joe Junior, will be the first Catholic President of the United States. As nursemaid to all nine Kennedy children, Nora witnesses every moment, public and private. She sees the boys coached at their father's knee to believe everything they'll ever want in life can be bought. She sees the girls trained by their mother to be good Catholic wives. World War II changes everything. At the outbreak of war the Kennedys are living the high life in London, where Joseph Kennedy is the American ambassador. His reaction is to send the entire household back across the Atlantic to safety, but Nora, surprised by midlife love, chooses to stay in England and do her bit.
Separated from her Kennedys by an ocean she nevertheless remains the warm, approachable sun around which the older children orbit: Joe, Jack, Rosemary, and in particular Kick, who throws the first spanner in the Kennedy works by marrying an English Protestant. Laurie Graham's poignant new novel views the Kennedys from below stairs, with the humour and candour that only an ex-nursemaid dare employ.
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(197mm x 130mm x 22mm)
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
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US Kirkus Review »
A nanny's diary chronicles the goings on of a famous American clan.Having employed a similar voyeuristic technique in Gone with the Windsors (2006), British novelist Graham now turns her attentions to America's analogous imperial family via the remembrances of an observant Irish servant. With nine children under young Nora Brennan's charge and the tough matriarch Rose Kennedy breathing down her neck, it's a wonder Nora has time to put pen to paper. Her account sacrifices the political years, delving instead into the darker days between world wars to explore the peculiar domestic dynamics of the teeming family. Fierce father Joe is portrayed as a whirling dervish with voracious appetites. Rose, meanwhile, is described by the servant girl as having "a heart as hard as the hob of hell." Nora's affections run to slow-witted, disregarded Rosemary and obstinate social butterfly Kathleen, called "Kick." In a lush testimonial, Nora brings readers from the prosperous mansions of Hyannis to the war-torn streets of London, and finally to the eve of Jack's presidential campaign. It's in the book's denouement during World War II that the Kennedy tragedies take root. Jack sustains a wartime injury; Rose becomes the victim of a crippling lobotomy; and prodigal son Joseph succumbs to an early death. Even Nora suffers, sacrificing a chance at marriage and happiness to serve the family she calls "my Kennedys." The tart observations of lives of privilege may take the shine off the Camelot myth, but Graham's book is marked not by ridicule but rather by an elegant, forthright poignancy. A refreshingly nostalgia-free portrayal that breathes life into the Kennedy story. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Laurie Graham
Laurie Graham is the author of ten novels. The Ten O'Clock Horses, was shortlisted for the Encore Award and dramatized for Radio 4, as was Perfect Meringues. Later titles are The Dress Circle, Dog Days, Glenn Miller Nights, The Future Homemakers of America, The Unfortunates, Mr Starlight, and, most recently, Gone With the Windsors. Laurie is a former Daily Telegraph columnist and contributing editor to SHE magazine, and wrote the best-selling Parents' Survival Guide. In addition to her novels she writes original dramas and adaptations for BBC Radio. Born and raised in Leicester, Laurie now lives in Venice with her American husband. Related websites: www.lauriegraham.com