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What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love [Kindle Edition]

Carole Radziwill
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (866 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $10.99
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Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
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Book Description

A stunning, tragic memoir about John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife Carolyn Bissett, and his cousin Anthony Radziwill, by Radziwill’s widow, now a star of The Real Housewives of New York.

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. Carole grew up in a small suburb with a large, eccentric cast of characters. At nineteen, she 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, and 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 F. Kennedy Jr., Anthony’s cousin, and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, Carole’s closest friend. Three weeks later Anthony dies of cancer. With unflinching honesty and a journalist’s keen eye, Carole Radziwill explores the enduring ties of family, the complexities of marriage, the importance of friendship, and the challenges of self-invention. Beautifully written, What Remains “gets at the essence of what matters,” wrote Oprah Winfrey. “Friendship, compassion, destiny.”

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"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

Product Details

  • File Size: 2349 KB
  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 074327718X
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (October 7, 2005)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FCKH10
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,767 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
343 of 359 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing November 16, 2005
I bought this book in an airport because of the cover. The cover photo is one I have in my bedroom. I was in a huge hurry to get a book for the plane ride and I didn't notice the author's name particularly.

I read the entire book on that plane ride and it was an out of body experience for me because I have just recently finished helping my sister die. The book reviewer who treated it as though it were a "Kennedy" book disguised as a memoir and alluded that she was somehow capitalizing on a famous name to sell a book obviously isn't in this club that I now live in. Grief is a horrific world. It's the story of your life and I think she had to tell it to survive.

First of all, it's well written (no joke, the woman is a journalist---they practice the craft daily). This reviewer claims the book is "padded" with her childhood experiences. Excuse me, it's a memoir ! ! ! Childhood MEMORIES are not padding in a MEMOIR. The fact that her marriage -- to a person who is happens to be the maternal cousin of John Kennedy---dominates the book is because that was the biggest "story" in her life. So, naturally, a good writer of a MEMOIR will emphasize the biggest story of their life. And, it's not the biggest story of her life because he had a famous name. It's the biggest story of her life because her husband was handed a death sentence and she had to help him live knowing he was going to die.

This is NOT a "Kennedy" book (didn't know that was a category), it's a memoir that does a most excellent job of describing being in the inner circle of a young person who has been handed a death sentence. I know because I have lived it.

For this author it was her husband. For me, it was my younger sister who got her death sentence at 36.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thought provoking read January 4, 2006
I just finished the book and said to my husband, "This is a good read", however, I felt a little down and maybe a little spooked by Carole's story as I put the book on a shelf.

I thought her story was very well written. Carole and I are the same age, so I felt that I could relate to her at least on that level; we had similar adolescent experiences. Also, I recognize in her my own sensibility about things, and more than once I caught myself studying her photo on the jacket in an attempt to understand what it was about this stranger that was so familiar to me.

For me, the specifics of her relationship with the Kennedys was an afterthought. That she would lose her husband and such dear friends within mere weeks absolutely haunted me. The fact that John was in the midst of preparing Anthony's eulogy when he himself perished drove the point home to me that I'd better think about my own final curtain call and be grateful for the reminder to live each day to the fullest.

While I read, I would find myself mentally ticking off a list of promising futures cut short by tragedy. Princess Diana, JFK, John Lennon, childhood friends. I like a book that invokes this kind of reflection. It also made me think about what kind of care taker I would be, and I'm made even more mortified by the thought of it.

I think that anyone who is not afraid to read about brutally honest,real-life, no-holds-barred emotion would enjoy this book. If, like me, you have resolved in the New Year to be a more grateful, giving and empathetic person, or if you merely like a good, multi-faceted story, I don't think you'll go wrong here.
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91 of 108 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous writing, heartbreaking story September 27, 2005
I live in NYC and bought (and read) this book the first day it came out. Of course, anyone with access to People magazine knows the rough outline of Ms. Radziwill's story, but what she does -- through her evocative memories -- is share a privileged glimpse of a couragous and ultimately sorrowful story. While it is said that some of the Kennedys are unhappy with her memoir, I completely disagree -- Ms. Radziwill's story of her love for her husband and the life they shared, and her friends John and Carolyn Kennedy, is her own. Because if one does not own their own story, what do they have?

Having said that, I am in awe of Ms. Radziwill's strength, and her courage. "What Remains" is a remarkable story of love and loss in the face of a world that will sometimes break your heart.

Finally, Ms. Radziwill is a hell of a writer. This book will be a classic. I hope she continues -- if I could, I would give the book ten stars.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read.... September 29, 2005
By Randy
What Remains after the core of your life is lost? What Remains after fate takes two of your closest friends in a freak accident and your husband dies of cancer all in one month? What Remains is, as always, the living - in this case Carole Radziwill. And the memories.

This is a story within a story. Set in the very public and prominent Kennedy clan's world, it is an honest view of globally recognizable figures - John Jr. and his wife Carolyn - and Carole's husband, Anthony - John's first cousin. There is no "dirt" here, rather a testament to their genuiness and compassion. You will connect with them in a real way, as real people, seeing them through the eyes of a friend - not with rose colored glasses either, but with clear glimpses into very personal moments only accessible to one so close, and those glimpses are very telling.

And yet, this is much more so a story of courage and the strength of the human spirit - the ability to realize a dream and the will to go on when one's world crumbles. It is a tale of one woman's hard work, risk, accomplishment and the consuming impact of terminal illness. A tale of improbable love and kinship, and the vagaries of fate - or chance. It is a Cinderella story with a very hard dose of reality thrown in - a bittersweet roller coaster ride. One that, regardless of setting and characters, would be both sad and inspiring - a valuable and rewarding read.

While reading the book, I saw Ms. Radziwill on Oprah being interviewed. She was asked a question about John and Carolyn Kennedy's marriage - it lead to whether they had sought marriage counseling. As with the entire story her answer was honest - she said they had - but insightful - she commented that sometimes people confuse `fact' with truth.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This book was sincere and touching. Absolutely worth reading. I have a whole new perspective on many things when I closed this book.
Published 8 days ago by Rice
5.0 out of 5 stars Eloquent and lovely
Haunting and consuming, you can feel every emotion Radzwill cleverly articulates in her novel. A balanced and thoughtful work that is intimate without being overly voyeuristic in... Read more
Published 10 days ago by Aaron richardson
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
The account of John F. Kennedy, jr., and Carolyn Bessett-Kennedy's plane crash and the affects it had on the family, was well told by the author. Read more
Published 13 days ago by JoCee
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Very well written and kept me thinking of the story even at work could not wait to get home to read it each day
Published 16 days ago by connie rachunek
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read!
A great book about life, love, and figuring all of it out. Carole gives a bird's eye view into her marriage, her husband's diagnosis, and still makes the book incredibly... Read more
Published 18 days ago by Hannah Lewis
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book. A real heartbreaking story but beautifuly written
Great book . A real heartbreaking story but beautifuly written.
Published 22 days ago by Hatman
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book
A beautiful tribute to those she loved. An inside look of who they all were as real people that were her family.
Published 25 days ago by Karen
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyed this book.
I've watched Carole Radziwill on the Real Housewives of NYC for the past few years, and saw this book mentioned online recently and thought I'd check it out. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Beeloo03
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read.
Amazing book. Carole tells her story in a way that makes you feel like you are her friend, experiencing everything with her. I look forward to reading more of Carole's work.
Published 1 month ago by browntown023
1.0 out of 5 stars I lost my best friend and husband within 3 months of each other
I lost my best friend and husband within 3 months of each other, I was looking for some comfort. Instead all I got was a self congratulatory book full of gossip. Read more
Published 1 month ago by PQPP
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what remains
One of my fave books of all time. Have read it repeatedly. Gives me a lot of courage in many different situations. She reminds me a lot of Sheryl Crow, another of my heroines.
Jan 11, 2007 by Booklover |  See all 2 posts
Welcome to the What Remains forum
I loved Carole Radziwill's narrative. It's about time a member of this uber secretive family put her heart into her writing. This is a real love story. Here was a very accomplished young woman with a relatively humble background who married a beautiful prince from high aristocracy.

The author... Read More
Jan 29, 2006 by frosty7530 |  See all 2 posts
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Did you ever get any Questions? My Book Club is now reading this book and would love our ideas.

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