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Happy Times Hardcover – May 17, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Assouline (May 17, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 2843232503
  • ISBN-13: 978-2843232503
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 7.6 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Andy Warhol would have approved of close friend Lee Radziwill's autobiographical picture book, Happy Times. A sort of postmodern photographic journal crossed with a lovey Hello! spread, Radziwill's book offers a visually lush, mildly gossipy, somewhat surreal document--solely in photographs and brief reminiscences--of the younger Bouvier sister's unique brand of celebrity. As Radziwill explains in her introduction, friends had urged her to write a biography for years, but she felt doing so would "involve me in too many other lives." So she opted for a biography that focuses only on her "happy times" (hence the book title), and these, she says, happened mostly in the 1960s. The resulting slim volume is essentially a collection of gorgeous photographs, scattered haphazardly like a scrapbook, interspersed with Radziwill's selective memories and little handwritten comments. With a somewhat unconvincing naiveté ("memories should be of happy times"), each chapter is devoted to a particular "happy time" but in no special order. We have summers in Montauk with Mick and Bianca, Christmas with the young Kennedy family, a tour of India with her sister Jackie, whole chapters devoted to each of Radziwill's many exotic homes.

Assuming the reader knows most of the big events of her life, Radziwill offers little in the way of context of these happy times, and it's this element that ultimately gives the project a surreal, celebrity-by-association feel. You wonder why you're reading this random assemblage of country-house photos and memories of Truman Capote; or, considering so much of the book is taken up by photos of the Kennedys, why you should especially care about Lee Radziwill. But it isn't without its charm, and as you flip through the book, Radziwill's breathless gratitude for her own good fortune becomes contagious. The book's final chapter, hand-drawn by Lee and sister Jackie in 1951, documents a summer trip to Europe. An odd inclusion but ultimately fascinating, it's the essence of Happy Times: you're not exactly sure what you're looking at, or why--but isn't it lovely? --Marisa Lencioni, Amazon.co.uk


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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Steven G. Williams on March 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This was an incredible book filled with candid photographs of Lee Radziwill, her family and friends. Fortunately, you will recognize everyone in the book. The style and presentation are very mellow and you will be especially touched by the pictures of the people in Ms. Radziwill's life who were taken prematurely. The photographs of her with her children and her sister, Jacqueline Kennedy, are wonderful and unposed. This book is a fantastic addition to my coffee table. You will enjoy it, too.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Susan Towers on April 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be charming - it's like a scrapbook - very personal and offers a glimpse at this tragic and iconic family. I thought Lee Radziwill's drawings sweet - it's not meant to be some profound statement about the Kennedy's - it just captures the spirit of the moment. I think it's an unusual and highly evocative publication - worth buying despite what some other reviews have written!
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer on November 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
You have to like, or at least be interested in Lee Radziwill in order to appreciate this book. You have to realize that it's a Lee Radziwill book, not a Jackie book, or a Kennedy book, or even a Truman Capote/ socialite circle book. Its title suits it perfectly. This book represents what we'd all like to have one day: a sparkling documentation of the happy times of our lives with no mention of, in Lee Radziwill's case, the considerable bad times. It's unfair to criticize this book for what it never was meant to be.
If you've read the DuBois biography, you will recognize a lot in this book. Unfortunately the DuBois biography focuses exclusively on the negative, documenting every last derogatory comment anyone ever made about Lee Radziwill. I think Happy Times proves that Lee Radzwill is far more graceful than the world seems to think.
This is a beautiful book. Great photography, creative format, interesting narrative. A real treasure!
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is a rambling collection of photographs and memories from the life of Caroline Lee Bouvier Canfield Radziwell Ross. And with so many names, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that her life is spun off into many different directions and many different interests...
How wonderful a real autobiography from Lee Radziwell would have been. She's play a vital, albeit supporting, role in the "Camelot" saga that has fascinated the world for the past forty years. Her book, HAPPY TIMES, in a stingy peek into that world, and almost as frustrating as her recent bout of TV interviews with Barbara Walters (who I thought was going to throttle her for the lack of ANY information Lee gave during her interview last fall), Diane Sawyer and Larry King. She has so much to tell, yet hold so much back and ultimately frustrates even her most ardent supporters.
But, with three failed marriages, money woes and, most sadly, the premature death of her son, it's easy to fogive Lee her discretion. But that doesn't mean you have to buy this book.
Most of the photographs are very well known indeed, some of them are even public domain photos from the national archives. There are a lot of reprinted pictures of her decorating schemes for her various houses and an entire section lifted from her 1970's book ONE SPECIAL SUMMER, which is a little beyond the pale to just reprint a whole section of an earlier book and sell it as new.
Wish her well in her life, but don't buy this book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By steve on April 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
What a treat to see inside someone's personal scrapbook and photo album. This book gives us that rare treat. Ms. Radizwill and her family have had a life full of great triumphs and great tragedy. In this book, she chooses to share with us the triumphs, or 'happy times' as she refers to them. This is a great book for admirers of Ms. Radziwill, the Kennedys, or admires of style and beauty. Thanks Ms. Radziwill for sharing this beautiful collection so memories.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By l.c.davis on April 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
What a disappointment this book proved to be. No real insights and certainly no new information about this shadowed sister or her famous relatives. Just endless pictures of Ms. Radziwill looking far away and dazed. Almost no pictures of 'you know who'. I returned it the same day I received it. The narrative is boring and the desire to understand this person better is very much left unsatisfied. Ms. Radziwill works so hard at maintaining her privacy that she fails to inform her readers of anthing that would be of real interest.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 1, 2001
Format: Hardcover
As Ms Radziwill explains in her engagingly brief introduction to this "happy" book she feels no need to add to the mountain of words already written about her family. She has instead chosen a collection of photographs and other documents that remind her of life with Jackie and others (Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Oleg Cassini...) in the 60s. It is quite beautifully done and there is a strange mystery to the sequence of images with their brief and enigmatic hand written captions. It is almost hallucinatory; or perhaps like a location shoot for a yet to be filmed movie. I like this reading of the book as something haunting, magical and poetic. Some of the pictures (the corner of a deserted terrace in Ravello or a table set with food) have the sort of quality more usually associated with art photography. Did Ms Radziwill intend to convey this quality? I don't know but I think this book will be remembered for a long time.
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