ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – An Invitation to the Kennedys by Emily Hourican
An Invitation to the Kennedys by Emily Hourican was published by Hachette Books Ireland on 14th September 2023. My thanks to the author and publisher for sending a review copy.
Kathleen ‘Kick’ Kennedy, recently arrived from Boston, is already a huge hit in 1930s London society. As the daughter of the US ambassador, she is at the centre of the most elite social circles. But when she falls for a duke-in-waiting, she realises there are plenty of people who think she doesn’t belong.
Lady Brigid Guinness has no interest in love, marriage or society connections. But her brother-in-law Chips Channon has other ideas – and seems intent on pushing her towards a match with a dull German prince.
When Chips invites the Kennedys and a select group of friends and family to Kelvedon Hall, his country estate, Brigid and Kick discover that beneath the brittle facade of politeness, marriages are on the rocks, political intrigue abounds and nothing is really as it seems – all while the war in Europe grows closer by the day.
By the time their week in Essex has ended, both Kick and Brigid realise that their world is changing rapidly, and their hopes and plans for the future may have to change too . . .
Inspired by true-life events, An Invitation to the Kennedys is a spell-binding page-turner from the bestselling author of the Guinness Girls series.
Emily Hourican’s Guinness Girls series has caught my eye before but An Invitation to the Kennedys, which is book four, is the first I have read. Whilst I think it would have been nice to have the background of the previous three books, I never felt like I’d missed out on anything by starting with this one so it works fine as a standalone novel.
In fact, what drew me to it most of all was the fact that it features Kathleen ‘Kick’ Kennedy. Best known as one of the Kennedy clan (sister to JFK and Bobby), she’s most interesting to me because of her connection to Chatsworth and I’ve always thought her quite a glamorous addition to the Cavendish family, despite the fact that it seems she was more of a down to earth tomboy.
In this book, Joe Kennedy, Kick’s father, is appointed as the US Ambassador to the Court of St James and so some of the family are in Britain which is where she meets Billy Cavendish and some of the Guinness clan. Much of the book takes place at the country seat of Chips Channon and his wife, Honor. Honor’s sister, Lady Brigid Guinness, is the same age as Kick and so a friendship naturally ensues. There are all the ups and downs that comes with being in society in the 1930s and the war on the horizon becomes the elephant in the room with political manoeuvres coming into play.
This is a stylish and sophisticated story set in a high-status world. It’s a story of the upper classes, two prestigious and well-known families, and what happens when they converge. The complexities of social niceties against the stirring emotions, both politically and romantically, provide quite the backdrop to an interesting time for the characters, Europe and worldwide. Hourican writes engagingly and with confidence about fascinating characters. I thought this was a glittering and evocative read.
Emily Hourican is a journalist and author. She has written features for the Sunday Independent for fifteen years, as well as Image magazine, Condé Nast Traveler and Woman and Home. She was also editor of The Dubliner Magazine.
Emily’s first book, a memoir titled How To (Really) Be A Mother was published in 2013. She is also the author of novels The Privileged, White Villa, The Outsider and The Blamed, as well as three novels about the Guinness sisters: The Glorious Guinness Girls, The Guinness Girls: A Hint of Scandal and The Other Guinness Girl.
She lives in Dublin with her family.