- 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: 1,264 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #242,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love Hardcover – September 26, 2005
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I understand the reviews indicating that the book seemed self-congratulatory and that her feelings toward her husband seemed glib, if not downright cold. Again, feelings I would have shared upon the book's release. Now, I choose to applaud Ms. Radziwill for her candor and honesty.
I watched my mother battle and succumb to a terrible rare, but deadly illness. Our lives were very much the same as Anthony's - one step forward, two steps back. But this is not about my situation, but rather, the lens I was able to use while reading it.
This is a story of a woman who achieved a great deal of professional success and was on the cusp of the proverbial fairy tale. But life dealt her marriage a terrible blow with this devastating cancer that plagued them. It didn't come & stay...it came & went, again and again and again. I believe that, in & of itself, is terribly sad. You have dreams, you dismantle your dreams, you believe in them again, they are shattered again. Yes, I know many people face these difficulties & other hardships, but she is trying to explain how she lived and coped in her own personal way. I had deep appreciation for her willingness to discuss her gamut of feelings throughout those years. When an illness overwhelms your life personally, or by proxy, it is all consuming. It's 24/7. She gave a voice to the spectrum of emotions she felt.
It was no secret that John Kennedy Jr. was her husband's cousin and best friend, so I'm astounded by the number of people who choose to view her relationship with Carolyn in a negative manner. She was illustrating a shared kinship of two girls from remarkably similar backgrounds who ended up royalty (actual and American) in the most fabled and studied family in modern America. I, personally, enjoyed how she humanized Carolyn, gave her a voice, let us get to know who she was. I loved their friendship and their support network.
This, ultimately, is a book written by a woman who is grieving the loss of her husband and the sudden loss of her best friend. I honestly think that if you have not experienced one or the other that you will not fully appreciate this book, that you will, perhaps, "side" with the negative reviews. She states quite clearly that when you are grieving, what remains are your memories and your stories. Her catharsis is to share hers. As someone who watched the person I loved more than anyone else ravaged by a terrible illness for many years, I appreciated her candor. As someone who relied on my friendships to get through that time, I appreciated her willingness to tell her stories with Carolyn. I can't imagine losing the entire foundation of my personal life within mere weeks of each other.
It's a beautiful tome to love, loss, and friendship - it's a book that sticks with you. I think it's a book that can be read and re-read at different times in our lives and appreciated in different ways. To me, that's the mark of a five star book.
I'll admit though, I became curious. She was on the way to London to pick up her husband's ashes and she talked about her experiences on the show. I'm widowed as well and I became curious. She'd made some cracks about "widow is the new virgin" which was pretty obnoxious but her feelings on camera seemed real.
Her memoir showed a different picture than the "all work and no play makes me a happy girl" tv persona. She'd grown up hardscrabble, in a large family that sounded both loving and difficult. Her incredible drive came through in every sentence, and while it took her far, it must have been incredibly painful to live with. She clearlly wanted to be at the top and center of the world as she saw it: as a journalist, a writer, a woman, and a social being. And why not? She'd seen it on television and she went for it -- and even got it.
She writes movingly of her husband's cancer treatment and how they coped. However the relationship that she writes of most beautifully and movingly was of her friendship with Carolyn Bessette. There was clearly a bond between these two girls who'd grown up so differently from their husbands but it was more than that. The Carolyn Bessette that most of us knew about was a cardboard figure, a cariacature, courtesy of the media, who'd known how to play hardball with the nation's most eligible bachelor and who summoned Martha Stewart to teach her to cook (I read it in the New York Post so it must be true). Carole's Carolyn was a beautiful, rare person who understood suffering immediately and knew how to help with humor, love and compassion.
Carole makes the loss feel immedate and real - the fateful plane accident succeeded a few weeks later by the death of her husband. She'd lost her entire world.
And yet she has prevailed and written this book. Is it great literature? No? It doesn't need to be. It's simply a reminder that anything can happen to anyone at any time, and that the picture of the rich and famous we see online and in the press is only that - a picture and not the whole story.
It's a very interesting book and if you are dealing with any sort of loss, well, hopefully it's helpful. I found it to be so.
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cannot believe how I actually got this strength I didn't know I had in me .Read more