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What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love Hardcover – September 26, 2005

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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.
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"A moving testimony to the tenuous nature of love and life." -- USA Today

"A riveting and heartbreaking journey beyond the fairy tale, told with the compassion of a friend and wife." -- Jeannette Walls, author of

"A stunning memoir of love and loss" -- O Magazine

"Carole Radziwill, a wonderful writer . . . gets at the essence of what matters - friendship, compassion, destiny." -- Oprah Winfrey, O Magazine

"One of the best memoirs . . . a small masterpiece . . . devestating and beautifully written." -- NY Post

"Powerfully affecting . . . a highly compelling read." -- Vogue

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (September 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739458736
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739458730
  • ASIN: 0743276949
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,062 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #357,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

383 of 400 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Siefken on November 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
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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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By LCO on January 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
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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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Randy on September 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
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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