Monday, March 2, 2009

What Remains, a Memoir of Fate, Friendship & Love

What Remains, a Memoir of Fate, Friendship & Love
autobiography, Carole Radziwill

I began reading this book just at the time Caroline Kennedy was being considered as the replacement senator from New York. Carole Radziwill is a cousin, by marriage, to Caroline, and reading the book served somewhat as a historical reference to current times.

I say somewhat as Carole does not refer a lot to the Kennedy family in her book except to John F. Kennedy, Jr., who was cousin to Carole husband, Anthony Radziwill. John's mother Jacqueline, and Anthony's mother Lee were sisters.

The story should have been a fairy-tale with a happy ending. A girl from a lower-middle class family achieves success on her own and ends up marrying a handsome prince. But instead, it's a sad story, indeed. The book starts out as Carole and Anthony are sitting at the beach in Martha's Vineyard awaiting the arrival of John and his wife Carolyn Bessette who is also Carole's best friend. It was that fateful day we all remember when the plane John was piloting crashed into the bay, killing John and Carolyn and her sister.

To make the story even more sad, as they waited on the beach, not yet knowing the terrible news, thoughts were of Anthony who was in the final throes of a fatal bout with cancer. Carole would shortly lose the three most important people in her life in a very short span. She quotes Orson Welles, at the start of her book, If you want a happy ending, it depends on where you end your story.

The book then turns to Carole's childhood, growing up in a family that lived a marginal lifestyle, providing sometimes unsavory role models for young Carole. I won't elaborate on the journey from childhood to princess, but it is an interesting story, and I'll offer no spoilers here.

I am not a follower of the famous, and this book would probably hold more interest for one who is. I found it more historically interesting as it fit into the nooks and crannies of things I already knew. The book is very well-written -- a beautiful use of language and style. I always enjoy a book so well-written.

I only gave this book three stars because I felt it was a book with a limited audience - those who like to peer into the lives of the rich and famous. However, it was, I hope, a cathartic book for the author, as she did have three very tragic losses to deal with.

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