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What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love

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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  6,890 ratings  ·  951 reviews
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
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Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 5th 2007 by Scribner (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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christa
Carole Radziwill is Bravo TV bait, but only on paper: She’s a 40-something woman with a title, relatively few facial creases, a famous last name and has a limb-by-marriage on the Kennedy family tree. But the new addition to Season 5 of “The Real Housewives of New York” has little in common with her castmates. When it comes to manicured talons and wine screeches, Radziwill’s signature move is no move at all. A surprised blink, an incredulous “Is this really happening” as a shitshow explodes aroun ...more
Stacey
I started this book less than 24 hours ago, and had to fight myself to not stay up all night and finish it. The writing is incredible. The story flows so easily, it feels like fiction. If only it were...
I am, I believe, near the end, and have to save it for later. I can't bring myself to finish it now.
Anne R
This book is almost too painful to read. Most Americans remember JFK,Jr crashing the plane and that his wife, Carolyn and her sister, Lauren were on board and maybe some people remember just three week letter his cousin died of cancer. However, I suspect very few people were aware that his cousin's wife was best friends with Carolyn. Within three weeks time, Carole Radiwill (actually Princess Radiwill since her husand, Anthony, was Prince Radiwill of Poland) lost her husband and her best friend. ...more
RNOCEAN
""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, one of a long line of Polish royals and nephew of President John F. Kennedy. Carole Radziwill's story is part fairy tale, part tragedy. She tells both with great candor and wit.Carole grew up in a small suburb with a large, eccentric cast of characters. She spent her childhood summers with her grandparents and an odd assor ...more
Stephen
Aug 19, 2011 Stephen rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People of JFK Jr.'s generation and those not afraid of the dark side.
Recommended to Stephen by: Mom.
My mother passed "What Remains" along and, like all choices not my own where reading is concerned, the book warranted only a grudging early perusal.

Nonetheless, this haunting autobiography won the day. Carole Radziwill, according to the sleeve notes, is working on a novel and it should be worth plunking down some money on a chance when it comes out (if not already on the shelves).

Publishers would naturally salivate at a chance to run the memoir of a young and middle class girl who marries into t
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deLille
I appreciate that Carole Radziwill did not want to write a sentimental book, but that didn't mean she had to be an ice-queen. There were glimpses in the book in which she seemed more human, more engaged with her life than just reporting on it as though she were a bystander, but those moments were too few.

Still, Radziwill had a fascinating, if a bit voyeuristic, subject to write about and the topic alone made the book a very interesting read. Because Radziwill did not repeatedly allude to the dea
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Michelle Anne
Where do I even begin? This has to be one of the best memoirs I’ve read to date. This woman has such a way with words; her heavy emotions are laid throughout every page. I first heard of Carole Radziwill when I saw her on tv, then heard she was journalist at ABC news, then learned of the tribulations in her past. My curiosity grew as I wanted to know more about her, her experience of marrying into a Polish royal family, and her befriending John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife.

Carole brings us back
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Kricket
2 confessions:

-the 5th star is purely emotional.
-i first picked this book up shortly after it came out, but i decided it would be too sad and didn't read it. my main reason for trying again is the real housewives of new york city. carole radziwill appears so put-together and graceful AND she has an actual life and a real career. one has to wonder why she is on the show at all. except for me to adore her.

and i adore her even more after reading this because the woman can write. she's funny and sel
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Debbie
I was really excited when I got a chance to read this book. I had read Fairy Tale Interrupted: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Loss by RoseMarie Terenzio a while back. I thoroughly enjoyed the story of a young girl from the Bronx becoming the personal assistant to John F. Kennedy Jr. RoseMarie portrayed herself as a genuine, normal gal who got a fairytale job working for an extraordinary boss. I thought this book might be similar. Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

Carole Radziwill was married to Joh
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Jay
Girl meets boy. Girl falls in love. Girl marries boy. Their fairytale is over in a few short years.

I read What Remains after having caught a glimpse of a few interviews Carole had done before its release. As shocking as it sounds now, I was not familiar with the Radziwill name, nor was I looking for a Kennedy tell-all. People interested in either are likely to be disappointed.

What Remains is heartbreaking, beautiful, and utterly tragic. The themes of love, support, and loss are relatable and i
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Debbie
I finished this book a few days ago, and still can't stop thinking about it. Ms. Radziwill is an excellent writer who told her story with heart and feeling. I have read quite a lot about the Kennedy and Radziwill families, and she brought a new and interesting perspective.

What I loved most about reading her story was how honest she was throughout - yet she never gossiped about her famous relatives. I thought she was forthcoming with information but also remained discreet in many ways. This is no
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Leigh Hancock
Nov 16, 2007 Leigh Hancock rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my relatives in Wisconsin, bless their souls
I'm still not sure how I got this book; the library called one day and said it was in and I could pick it up. So I did, and discovered that it is a memoir by a woman who married a Polish prince who was dying of cancer (although she didn't know that when they married) and who was also by chance a cousin of JFK Jr. So it's partly the story of how her fairytale marriage turned grisly, but more significantly, it's about how much she came to love JFK Jr's wife, Carolyn Bissett....to the extent that s ...more
Michelle
“The dandelion is a gawky yellow flower that blooms and then collapse into a soft, clumsy down that little children blow wishes on. There was a sea of dandelions in our back yard on Madison Hill, and Grandma Binder, swinging her scythe, would mount a futile attack on them in her housedress and apron. They grew into a clotted forest of long, milky necks in the backyard, and the best she could hope for was just to cut them down to stubs. It starts with one slouchy weed – pluck it out and it’s gone ...more
Patrizia
I would have liked this memoir a whole lot better if Carole Radziwill hadn't gone out of her way to insult me on page 20.

There it is, as the capper to a meditation on the random nature of fate. Two beautiful people die tragic deaths: a popular girl in junior high school and Radziwill's beautiful best friend a quarter century or so later. In both cases, the tragedy becomes a touchstone for people outside the victims' immediate spheres. Same as it's ever been for thousands of years. See the heartb
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Bernadette Walsh
I have to say, after the first 40 pages or so (which felt a little disjointed to me, as if the author was "warming up"), I was completely hooked on this book. And to see the bold faced names presented in such a human light was compelling. What was even more compelling was how Ms. Radziwell presented such a searingly honest portrayal of the pain of being a helpless witness to the ravaging power of a horrible disease. I read this book in two days.

Ms. Radziwill is a wonderful writer and I look forw
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Tanya W
For me, I have a hard time relating to Carole. I dislike the feeling of judgment I sometimes feel when I read, but all in all I think it's good to be able to take our values and view of the world and allow ourselves to judge books (the authors kind of put themselves out there to be judged by their writing). I can see how this was probably cathartic to write, but I was sometimes disappointed in the author and her view of things.

I particularly thought her estimation of "tragedy whores" was a bit d
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CJ
Confession is good for the soul, right? Here's my latest, I absolutely love watching The Real Housewives of New York City. There is something so compelling about following someone around in their "daily" life and just watching - must be the voyeur in me. So Carole Radziwill was one of the newest housewives this last season and I found I didn't much like her. She wasn't as vibrant as the other housewives.

I picked this book up because she spoke very little about this chapter in her life on the sho
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Jen
This book is an eloquently written memoir of a woman who lost her husband and two best friends within a three week time period. While anyone's loss deserves its own unique account, the author's loved ones were extremely famous and cherished people within recent American history. While Carole Radziwill's name is not too recognizable,it just so happens that her two best friends were JFK Jr. and his wife Carolyn , and that her husband was Anthony Radziwill, the nephew of Jackie Kennedy and best fri ...more
Leigh  Kramer
This drew me in right from the start. Carole Radziwill is a fantastic addition to the Real Housewives of New York. She was an award-winning ABC News journalist for 15 years and married to Jackie O's nephew. Her husband Anthony was diagnosed with cancer shortly after they married and his cancer treatment became the focus of their next 5 years together until his death. One of the book's notable gems: "'Metastatic' is a clean, unemotional word, but in layman's terms it means, 'You're screwed.'" She ...more
Kate
I only heard of this from my Bravo TV vice, but Carole Radziwell is a whole different Housewives animal. This memoir of three wrenching deaths in quick succession is brutal, open and honest. It's kind of nice to see her on RHONY because she has a lightness about her in addition to her seriousness that shows that she has weathered this storm.

I really believe she captures the process and aftermath of loss better than Joan Didion, who I find cold.

"There is an imperceptible shift of a life in the
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Andreasoldier
I picked this up at the local used bookstore because I saw the author, now a cast member, talking about it on "Houseswives of New York."
This is a tearjerker of a book. Radziwill grew a up in a lower middle-class household, sometimes on welfare, worked at Caldors (!) in high school, put herself through college and got a job working on a news desk, becoming an Emmy-winning journalist.
Along the way she met Anthony Radziwill, a Polish prince working in the TV journalism field. The two carried on a l
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Lindsay
A well written story about the most intimate type of friendship and marriage. Interestingly, Carole's intimate relationships were with royalty (literally her husband) or American royalty (her husband's cousin, John F Kennedy, Jr.). This book is DEEP into the treatment and back and forth of cancer. Although she describes this well, it can be overwhelming in terms of being a heavy read.

The book is about her journey through this loss of her husband. It's devastating. And she takes care when she re
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Matthew
The parts of this book that were great were great, and then there was a lot of other stuff.

I don't know the exact page count on this one, as I read it on Kindle, but I'd put it somewhere around 300 pages. If I were the editor, I might have shaved off about 120 of those. I agree with other reviewers that say that it was significantly padded. Two hours or so of total reading time were probably spent on needless descriptions of details that don't add anything to the overall value of the story, and
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Amy
Beautifully written and unflinching in its description of her husband's slow, painful decline from vigorous health to helpless terminal cancer, I was completely unprepared for the deep emotional response I had to this book. It's tragic enough that a newlywed couple comes home from their honeymoon to discover cancer and then battles it throughout the rest of their marriage, but at the very end, when Anthony is three weeks from death, her support system dies in a sudden and public plane crash.

Wit
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Chelsea
There were positives and negatives to reading this book. The positives? Carole was seemingly honest in her portrayal of how hers and Anthony's relationship progressed. She didn't make it seem like the two of them fell head over heels in love or were faultless. It's clear that theirs was a love that gradually unfurled throughout the years, as opposed to starting with a bang. Carole's descriptions were also so vivid that I was able to easily picture scenes from the book in my head. Negatives? The ...more
Dayna
Nov 11, 2012 Dayna rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dayna by: Kimberly Ehrhart
I don't really know how to say this nicely, so I'm just going to come out and say it: I don't really like Carole Radziwill. I did not enjoy her narrative voice at all. The whole time I was reading her memoir, I kept thinking to myself, I don't like you. She seems self-centered and definitely has a case of "poor me". Poor me, nobody in my husband's family likes me...poor me, my husband won't admit he's sick and take care of himself, so I have to do it...poor me, poor me, poor me. I'm not diminish ...more
Kathy
Dissapointed that she wrote more about herself than her realtionships. I don't want to know her own personal family background but rather would have liked to dig in more about her realtionships with her husband, the Kennedys and John and Carolyn more. The writer is not the reason I bought this book but rather who she knew.
eb
Radziwill describes cancer well, and movingly. She gives us lots of fascinating details about JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. She tells some hard truths. But there's a bewildering absence at the center of this memoir. She doesn't capture--she doesn't even attempt to capture--anything about herself, her husband, or their relationship. There isn't one scene or description that reveals anything about their characters, their personalities. Maybe there wasn't much to be revealed. She says sever ...more
Erin Martin
Confession time - I only read (listened) to this book because Carole is my favorite person on "The Real Housewives of New York City". She is funny, smart, real and someone I want to be friends with. After I listened to this book, I only feel closer to her. She is SO intelligent but she went through hell in 2009. She lost her best friend, Caroline, and her husband's cousin/best friend, John F Kennedy, Jr, when their plane went down. Three short weeks later, she lost her husband to a very rare for ...more
Jessica
I am heartless and I thought this book was fairly uninteresting.
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“Caroline had a theory about relationships. 'You're much happier when you wait," she used to tell me. 'The ones that come to you are the only ones worth anything. It's like standing on the shore and spotting something in the water. You can splash around and try to get it, ot you can wait and see if the tide brings it in.” 36 likes
“Afterward I tried to find something to explain what had happened—was it cloudy, were the stars out? But the night was ordinary. It usually is, I think, when your life changes. Most people aren’t doing anything special when the carefully placed pieces of their life break apart.” 4 likes
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