Friday, October 5, 2012

Fascinating Memoir: Carole Radziwill's What Remains

Ok, all of you Bravo, Real Housewives of New York (RHNY) must, must, must read Carole Radziwill's best-selling memoir, What Remains.  Thankfully, I discovered it through a friend's recommendation (thank you Maryellen Zumkehr!) It is absolutely fascinating to read about her crazy, roller-coaster ride of a life.  Granted, my interest is partly due to my familiarity with her background and personality after watching her on the show.  Nevertheless, I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good, inspirational read.  Beyond her intriguing life story itself, her writing is phenomenal.  She has a natural story-telling ability, weaving keen observations throughout, eloquently describing the nuances of various personalities, relationships, situations, and settings.

Compared to the other two-faced, neurotic, narcissistic housewives on the show, she is like a fish out of water, attempting to navigate through their circle of friendship, socialization, and (perhaps most entertaining) weekends of travel.   Given her professional accomplishments in writing and journalism with ABC News, she is by far more interesting, authentic, and (life) educated than most of her cast-mates on the show.  Additionally, although a bit quirky (which actually makes her so likable), she seems genuine, down to earth, sincere, and too level headed to be caught up in all the RHNY drama...Frankly, I am not sure how or why she ended up on this crazy show!

Some critical acclaim of her memoir:

"A stunning memoir of love and loss...Carole Radziwill is a natural storyteller." - The Oprah Magazine

"One of the best memoirs...a small masterpiece...devastating and beautifully written." - New York Post

"Powerfully affecting...a highly compelling read." - Vogue

"Bittersweet and tender." - The New York Times Book Review

Provided below is an excerpt from her website, summarizing her memoir, What Remains, and a link to her website for reference.

"A true American story about a girl from a small town who becomes an award-winning television producer and marries the son of a European prince and nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy – a glittery fairy-tale stitched with unthinkable tragedy. 
Carole Radziwill grew up in a small working-class suburb, in a large chaotic family.  Her life lessons were gathered from the stern Austrian stoicism of her mother’s family and the happy lunacy of her father’s. She came from a place that few people left, and struck out for New York City to find a different life. In this vivid and haunting memoir, Radziwill tells the story of her unlikely journey. Her career at ABC News led her into the jungles of Cambodia, a bunker in Tel Aviv, and the ruins of Angkor Wat. Her marriage to Anthony Radziwill led her into an iconic American family, and a friendship with an extraordinary woman, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy.
What Remains begins with loss and returns to loss. A small plane plunges into the ocean, carrying John Kennedy and Carolyn, Carole’s cousins-in-law and closest friends. Three weeks later Anthony died. He was diagnosed with cancer shortly before their wedding and his illness became the focal point of their five-year marriage. The summer of the plane crash, the four friends were meant to be cherishing Anthony’s last days. Instead, Carole and Anthony mourned John and Carolyn, even as Carole planned her husband’s memorial.
Radziwill has an anthropologist’s sensibility and a journalist’s eye on the customs and mores of American aristocracy—those born to power and those who find a way to claim it. This is a candid, intimate, and compelling story of love, loss and ultimately, resilience. "

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