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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (September 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739458736
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743276948
  • ASIN: 0743276949
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (717 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

This book made me laugh and cry.
Shaun Marble
If you are like me, and like Carole Radziwill, John Kennedy Jr., and his wife Carolyn, you will love this book!
Gift Card
A beautifully written heartbreaking loves story.
T. Dunham

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

308 of 322 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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23 of 23 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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82 of 98 people found the following review helpful By Pamela Keogh on September 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
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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79 of 100 people found the following review helpful By L. Wheeler on October 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I bought and read this book because it was on many "must read" lists and Carole received an abundance of praise for her style. Her writing is lyrical and her style unique. However, as she openly admits, the book was therapy for her. But one woman's literary therapy does not necessarily tranlate into interesting subject matter for the reader. Personally, I found the endless (or what seemed like endless) chapters on her late husband's surgeries, tiresome to read about. Her subtle (or not so subtle) attacks on Caroline Kennedy seem somewhat out of place and catty, especially given the reflective tone of the book. For example, one gets the distinct notion from reading the book that Caroline did not care for either Carole or Carolyn Bessette-that she did not approve of her brother's marriage. Carole may want us to believe it is pure blue blood snobbery that got in the way of any impending friendship between the three. Yet, as she goes on to describe their habits and behaviors- purchasing Cartier toe rings for example, one cant help but understand why a woman like Caroline Kennedy, might have disdain for her sister/cousin in-laws. Lastly, I guess I was hoping for a love story and quite frankly, I found that there was more chemistry depicted between Carolyn Bessette and Carole Radziwill than between Carole and her late husband. The book left me unsettled in that regard. Is the author grieving her loss of a soulmate or her loss of a lifestyle? These are the question I was left with as I finished the book.
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