The Importance of Being Kennedy by Laurie Graham

About the book

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.

Reviewed by The Accidental Reading Group:

The book raised awareness of the history of the Kennedy family among the younger members of the group. They found it more interesting as it sparked interest in that era.

Star rating: ***

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1 thought on “The Importance of Being Kennedy by Laurie Graham”

  1. Review byNew Forest/waterside U3A Reading Group:
    A comfortable read. Most of our group having lived through the period in which the novel is set found the story as told by Nora Brannan familiar but fresh. The twin forces of Joseph Kennedy’s obsession with the goal of siring the first Roman Catholic President of the USA and Rose Kennedy’s religious narrowness producing a financially rich but morally dysfunctional family, is a tale for our time. Laurie Graham seems effortlessly to write weighty matters in a most entertaining way.
    Star rating: ***

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