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What Remains: A Memoir of Fate Friendshipby Carole Radziwill
Synopses & Reviews
What Remains is a vivid and haunting memoir about a girl from a working-class town who becomes an award-winning television producer and marries a prince, Anthony Radziwill, one of a long line of Polish royals and nephew of President John F. Kennedy. Carole Radziwill's story is part fairy tale, part tragedy. She tells both with great candor and wit.
Carole grew up in a small suburb with a large, eccentric cast of characters. She spent her childhood summers with her grandparents and an odd assortment of aunts and uncles in their poorly plumbed A-frame on the banks of a muddy creek in upstate New York.
At the age of nineteen, Carole struck out for New York City to find a different life. Her career at ABC News led her to the refugee camps of Cambodia, to a bunker in Tel Aviv, to the scene of the Menendez murders. Her marriage led her into the old world of European nobility and the newer world of American aristocracy.
What Remains begins with loss and returns to loss. A small plane plunges into the ocean, carrying John Kennedy, Anthony's cousin, and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, Carole's closest friend. Three weeks later Anthony dies of cancer. The summer of the plane crash, the four friends were meant to be cherishing Anthony's last days. Instead, Carole and Anthony mourned John and Carolyn, even as Carole planned her husband's memorial.
Carole Radziwill has an anthropologist's sensibility and a journalist's eye. She writes about families — their customs, their secrets, and their tangled intimacies — with remarkable acuity and humanity. She explores the complexities of marriage, the importance of friendship, and the challenges of self-invention with unflinching honesty. This is acompelling story of love, loss, and, ultimately, resilience.
"Here's a very sad story: a middle-class girl is working as a reporter at ABC, where she meets a handsome man from a famous family. They court, marry and become best friends with the husband's first cousin and his new wife. Abruptly, the reporter's husband is diagnosed with cancer. He dies, but not before the cousin and his wife (and her sister) die, too, in a senseless plane crash. This would be a heartbreaking story even if it weren't about Anthony Radziwill, nephew of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and about his and Carole's friendship with John and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. But because its publisher (and, presumably, the author) have decided not to market it as a 'Kennedy book' but 'a memoir of fate, friendship and love,' it begs consideration on its literary merits. So here goes: Radziwill is a serviceable, if sentimental, writer. She is brave, especially when she describes how cancer became the third party in her marriage, and how she briefly flirted with infidelity. She also knows how to convey the essence of a person with small scenes and quotes (JFK Jr. holding his dying friend's hand and softly singing a song from their childhood; director Mike Nichols not calling but just coming to the hospital and handing out sandwiches to the nurses). Still, perhaps in Radziwill's effort to further the myth of its non-Kennedyness, much of this already short book feels padded — with scenes from the author's childhood and medical details about Anthony's treatment. Otherwise, much of Radziwill's writing approaches melodrama, particularly when she recounts that July 1999 night when the plane crashed. At one point, Radziwill scoffs at the 'tragedy whores' who luxuriate in Kennedy trauma, and yet she seems to have been unable to resist contributing some crumbs to their feeding frenzy. (Sept. 27)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Carole Radziwill has written an unsparing, unsentimental and inspiring memoir. A spirited journalist with a novelist's eye for detail, she delivers a stunningly honest story about life's great joys and deepest pain." Christiane Amanpour CNN, Chief International Correspondent
"Carole Radziwill, a wonderful writer...gets at the essence of what matters — friendship, compassion, destiny." Oprah Winfrey, O Magazine
"Powerfully affecting...a highly compelling read." Vogue
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Biography » Women