Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Importance of Being Kennedy by Laurie Graham


Published 2007      chapter 15




It was a big production, getting two girls ready to be presented at Buckingham Palace. Mrs K was to go with them in the limousine and she had to wear a diamond tiara and white kid gloves with twenty-one buttons, no more, no less. She said you could be turned away if your gloves weren't right. The things the English dream up to keep you in your place. The main worry though was the curtsying. The girls had to practise walking up the red carpet until they had it off pat. Curtsy, step to the side, then glide away. We all went downstairs to see them off. Herself was in a gown made by Mr Molyneux, white satin with tiny gold beads stitched all over it, and a tiara borrowed from Lady Bessborough. Kick and Rosie had white tulle with a silver thread, Prince of Wales feathers pinned to their veils and lily-of-the-valley nosegays. Kick looked pretty, though we'd had to wrestle with her hair, and Mrs K looked a million dollars, but it was Rosie who stole the show, with her beautiful creamy shoulders and her dimples when she smiled. As Danny Walsh said, she was a grand doorful of a girl.


observations: Mrs K is Rose Kennedy, mother of JFK, and the girls are two of her daughters. Joe Kennedy is the US Ambassador to London, and the family is making the most of its brief time there at the end of the 1930s. Kick is Kathleen, who will marry the heir to a Dukedom, be widowed, and then meet further misfortune. In this (lightly) fictionalized version of their lives, her story and that of her sister Rose Marie are the main strands. Rosie was what would now be called special needs, and her prospects aren’t great either, especially viewed from a modern-day perspective. But the book is very funny and illuminating – the kind of fiction that makes you feel you understand this corner of history better.

Links up with:  
Those gloves have featured before – see hereJohn F Kennedy’s wedding featured in Presidents’ week here, and versions of the social Season from Anthony Powell, Christobel Kent and of course Nancy Mitford are all past entries. Pay attention now: Nancy's sister Deborah, that's Debo, married the younger brother of Kathleen Kennedy's husband. Because Kathleen's husband was killed in the war, Debo's husband Andrew became heir to the title Duke of Devonshire.

The picture is of debutantes in Sydney in the 1930s.

5 comments:

  1. Moira - The Kennedy family has had this cachet - this mystique - for decades. In the U.S. of course we don't have 'official' royalty but for many people, the Kennedy family comes as close as you're going to find. So it's really interesting to read about a novel that features them. And I can just imagine what it must have been like getting ready for that royal reception...

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  2. I loved the combination - I'm always fascinated by debutantes, the 1930s and so on, but also very interested in the Kennedys, and American life of that time. So the perfect book for me!

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  3. Moira, thanks for joining in the BYL fun again. Cheers

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  4. I like Laurie Graham's writing. This one sounds very interesting

    carol
    DizzyC

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  5. Wow...sounds like a very interesting book. THANKS for sharing. I am going to check out the gloves from your link.

    Stopping by from Carole's Books You Loved April Edition. I am in the list as #21.

    Elizabeth
    Silver's Reviews
    My Book Entry

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