Wow! If anyone has read a book about Jackie O, I have read five, maybe six, you have definitely heard the name Radziwill. Jackie's sister, Lee, was married to a Radziwill, there was some royal connection there, and the Kennedy's were close friends with their in-laws. Every event that is described in the "Jackie" books mentions the Radziwills - Jacks 40th birthday and cruises with Onassis come to mind. When I came across Carole Radziwill’s memoir, What Remains, I was confused for a bit and then it hit me. Of course! John and Anthony Radziwill are first cousins and it makes sense that they were close. The writer was married to Anthony Radziwill and was friends with John Kennedy and Caroline Bessette Kennedy. Makes sense.
What I didn't anticipate was the powerful and intimate story Carole Radziwill would tell. The players are famous, yes, but the tale is unerringly human.
The story begins the night of the doomed flight John Kennedy Jr would make with his wife of 3 years, Carolyn Bessette and her sister, Lauren. At that time, her husband, Anthony Radziwill, was dying from cancer suffered over five years. The author pivots back in time and tells of her upbringing (I would love the ask the author what ever happened to the twin, Caroline Garritano), her career and meeting Radziwill. The relationship with Radziwill and cancer (the cancer was present from the beginnings of their marriage) is described in painstaking and riveting detail. The author does a fantastic job here and the prose is deliberate, heartbreaking and honest. Kudos to her for sharing it with us. The juxtaposition of both her husband's final weeks and the Kennedy tragedy is particularly poignant.
This is one of those books that stays with you. Days later, I am still thinking about it. ((spoiler alert, but not really)) You have a foursome, a group of friends, all dreading the death of one of them and yet, tragically, the ones fullest of life are plucked away in an instant. What the heck? And then, the one survivor, suffers the loss of her friends and her husband? How much can one person take? And Why? What was John F Kennedy thinking when he took that flight 20 years ago this July 16th? What does this tragic example tell us about life and its fragility and cruelty? You got me but I am glad for the questions.