What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship & Love

Carole Radziwill, Author . Scribner $25.95 (264p) ISBN 978-0-7432-7694-8

Here's a very sad story: a middle-class girl is working as a reporter at ABC, where she meets a handsome man from a famous family. They court, marry and become best friends with the husband's first cousin and his new wife. Abruptly, the reporter's husband is diagnosed with cancer. He dies, but not before the cousin and his wife (and her sister) die, too, in a senseless plane crash. This would be a heartbreaking story even if it weren't about Anthony Radziwill, nephew of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and about his and Carole's friendship with John and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. But because its publisher (and, presumably, the author) have decided not to market it as a "Kennedy book" but "a memoir of fate, friendship and love," it begs consideration on its literary merits. So here goes: Radziwill is a serviceable, if sentimental, writer. She is brave, especially when she describes how cancer became the third party in her marriage, and how she briefly flirted with infidelity. She also knows how to convey the essence of a person with small scenes and quotes (JFK Jr. holding his dying friend's hand and softly singing a song from their childhood; director Mike Nichols not calling but just coming to the hospital and handing out sandwiches to the nurses). Still, perhaps in Radziwill's effort to further the myth of its non-Kennedyness, much of this already short book feels padded—with scenes from the author's childhood and medical details about Anthony's treatment. Otherwise, much of Radziwill's writing approaches melodrama, particularly when she recounts that July 1999 night when the plane crashed. At one point, Radziwill scoffs at the "tragedy whores" who luxuriate in Kennedy trauma, and yet she seems to have been unable to resist contributing some crumbs to their feeding frenzy. (Sept. 27)

Correction: The coauthor of How to Cook Your Daughter , with Jessica Hendra (Reviews, Aug. 29), was misidentified. Blake Morrison is an American journalist for USA Today .

Reviewed on: 09/05/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-0-7435-5037-6
Paperback - 264 pages - 978-0-7432-7718-1
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-7435-5219-6
Mass Market Paperbound - 404 pages - 978-1-4165-3126-5
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-7432-8182-9
Hardcover - 448 pages - 978-0-7862-8383-5
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7435-5036-9
Paperback - 264 pages - 978-1-4165-2197-6
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