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

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4.17  ·  Rating details ·  12,973 Ratings  ·  1,367 Reviews
"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 sma ...more
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published September 26th 2005 by Scribner Book Company (first published 2005)
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christa
Aug 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Kimber
Jan 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs
Carole Radziwell's recounting of the tragic deaths of her husband, Anthony Radziwill, his cousin John Kennedy and wife, Carolyn, all within three weeks of each other. Of course, John and Carolyn went down in that horrific plane crash. Here she reflects on life & death, and fate & fortune, as she recalls her memories of this time with beauty and eloquence. It is her non-linear approach that gives this book its multi-dimensional quality. Like the layers of an onion, the story unfolds itsel ...more
Stacey
Sep 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
May 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
deLille
Dec 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
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
...more
Debbie
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
...more
RNOCEAN
Nov 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
""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
Dawn
"Ultimately what remains is a story. In the end, it's the only thing any of us really owns." And what a tragic, heartbreaking story this is to have. Beautifully written, this story evoked many emotions in me as I read it and I couldn't put it down, even though I knew the horrific outcome. What Remains is the true story of Carole Radziwill, a girl from Suffern, New York, who married into European and American royalty when she met Prince Anthony Radziwill when both were working as producers for AB ...more
Kricket
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Michelle Anne
Oct 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Jay
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Stephen
Sep 14, 2008 rated it liked it
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
...more
Leigh Hancock
Nov 16, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Brandice
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"You never know when something is going to happen to change your life. You expect it to arrive with fanfare, like a wedding or a birth, but instead it comes in the most ordinary of circumstances."

I loved this book! It was devastating as the outcome is well-known from the beginning, but is so well-written. I really enjoyed Carole Radziwill's writing. The book was honest - she shares feelings I suspect many people experience at one time or another during grief and tragedy but don't always care to
...more
Diana Jorge-tulk
Apr 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have a confession to make. I'm not proud of it. When I was in high school I watched soap opera's, and now as a adult I watch The Real Housewives "reality" series. I mean I watch them all. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Atlanta, Orange County, New Jersey, and New York. My husband makes fun of me. Don't judge me. It's my escape, my get out of my head time. This is how I first heard of this book. The author of this book is on the New York one. I have never before read a book from a someone ...more
Erica Breckels
Jun 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow. I am in shock that someone who chooses to be on The Real Housewives franchise is also capable, in the same universe, to write a gem like this. What Remains so moved me. Radziwill peels away the layers of her life, truth and memory emerging through an intimate reveal. Fate and fortune play out on center stage here. Even while Radziwill is flirting with men while her husband is at chemo appointments, even while she fantasizes about escaping her waiting-to-die marriage, the reader stays with h ...more
Debbie
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Michelle
Jul 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
“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
Dayna
Nov 11, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Patrizia
Mar 22, 2014 rated it liked it
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
...more
Katie
Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I couldn't put this down - yes, appealed to the voyeur in me: The Kennedys, The Radziwills - but it wasn't a gossipy book. There is the pain and tedium of a long, horrible illness juxtaposed with the sudden death of JFK Jr and Carolyn Bessette. It is also a lovely story of friendship between Carole and Carolyn: two regular girls tip-toeing as they navigate marrying into the Kennedy family, and at least they have each other, until they don't. A lovely book.
Tanya W
May 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
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" ("embroiled
...more
Bernadette Walsh
Jun 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Kate
Aug 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
...more
CJ
Dec 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-books
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
...more
Leigh Kramer
Aug 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Eva
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 - this book very unexpectedly ripped my heart out.
Dorilyn
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read it for our book club. It was well written & allowed readers a glimpse of life in the Kennedy family. The topics of cancer, illness, friendship & death allowed for many discussions.
Amy
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
AndreaH
Oct 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
...more
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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.” 49 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.” 16 likes
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