Books for The Southern Lady.

 

Since we are all snowed in, I wanted to share some of my favorite books! I hope that you are all keeping warm in Snomageddin, and not going too stir crazy!

1: Gods in Alabama-Joshilyn Jackson

“There are gods in Alabama: Jack Daniel’s, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus.”

2: The Secret Life of Bees-Sue Monk Kidd

“There’s nothing like a song about lost love to remind you how everything precious can slip from the hinges where you’ve hung it so careful.”

3: Boys in Trucks- Katie Crouch

““I wish I were the graceful sort. I was trained to be. “Never chase men or buses,” my mother told me. “Another one will always come along.” Still, I always run after the subway, and when men go, I follow.”

4: What Southern Women Know (that every woman should).- Ronda Rich

“It is cynical to say never trust anyone, but it is realistic to say rarely trust completely.”

5:Bless your heart, Tramp: and other Southern Endearments.- Celia Rivenbark

“Never marry something until you’ve established the perfect pizza ratio…The premise is simple. My husband and I knew we were made for each other because we’re a 6:2 ratio, six slices for him and two for me…Never marry a man who wants two slices one week and four the next. They’re undependable and highly unpredictable and will likely dump you for some Internet honey who says she doesn’t mind his back hair.”

6:We’re just like You, only Prettier: Confessions of a Tarnished Southern Bell-Celia Rivenbark

“To the newcomer to the south, hearing that a coworker plans a weekend visit to ‘mama and them’s’ (the correct plural possessive, don’tchaknow), might make him think that mama has been left alone either throught an act of scoundreldom involving the town’s resident hoochie-mama (an altogether different kind of mama) or Daddy’s untimely demise.”

7: Fried Green Tomatos at the Whistle Stop Cafe-Fannie Flagg

“Face it girls. I’m older and I have more insurance.”

8: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen.- Susan Gregg Gilmore

“Remember guls,” preached Mrs. Gulbenk, always holding the most perfect red tomato in her hand for all of us to admire, “you can fry ’em, bake ’em, stew ’em, and congeal ’em. A good wife and mutha will always have a tomata on hand.:”

9: Steel Magnolias-Robert Harling

“Louie brought his new girlfriend over, and the nicest thing I can say about her is all her tattoos are spelled correctly.”

 

 

 

Refererees, Docs and God: Journal of Country Doctor by Dr. Donald L. Martin

 If you ever have time to read my blog, you will recall that a few months ago I did a write up about one of my favorite places in Perry County, Homeplace. I had such a warm reception of this piece that I was thoroughly humbled and surprised at the amount of love and pride that Homeplace still, to this day, inspires in people, around here. The piece focused primarily on the history of the clinic and doctors who were involved there in it’s heyday. Dr. Donald L. Martin being my primary interest, mainly because I was able to get in touch with his daughters, Carol and Gail. He also delivered my aunts and uncles at the clinic during the 50’s. His daughters were gracious enough to supply me with pictures, and stories of their father, both of which I enjoyed so much. I still have people who email me and thank me for the article.

 I had no idea that Dr. Martin had penned two books. Gail absolutely made my year by mailing me copies of both. They are among my treasures, and that says a lot, because I collect a lot of books. The amount of people who have offered to buy them or made inquiries of where to find them has been overwhelming. I believe it is safe to say that Dr. Martin made quiet an impact in his 20 years as a rural doctor in Eastern Kentucky. As a tribute to him, as well as his wonderful daughters who made this article possible, I just wanted to share the first of two of his fascinating books with you and hope that everyone who reads this can appreciate and admire the kind of intelligent, compassionate and wonderful man he obviously was.

Dr. Martin, a graduate from the University of Louisville Medical school, did his internship at the Philadelphia General Hospital. He was a medical officer aboard the U.S.S. Delta AR9 during the Korean Campaign, and for 20 years he served as staff physician at Homeplace Clinic, a Hospital near Hazard, Kentucky. He later spent years in solo practice in Salem, Indiana.

“It seems to me that referees, docs and God have something in common. Mistakes by any of these three entities simply are not tolerated.”

This wonderful little book is a collection of short stories by Martin, that span his career as a doctor, and chronicles what life was like in rural Eastern Kentucky during the 50s-60s. My favorites are clearly his recantations of life in Ary, Kentucky. As a physician at Homeplace in 50-60’s, life could not have been easy for him. Many people here in the mountains (at that time) had never been inside a clinic or hospital, let alone seen a doctor. Martin included several stories about child birth, which I am sure he delivered many in his years in Eastern Kentucky. “There was no birth control pill and to sterilize anybody took an act of congress in those days. Consequently, families often included ten to fifteen “head of youngun” along with Grandma, and Grandpa and maybe Aunt Mary.” So many folks around here come from large families and this is so true. My Grandmother alone had six children. It was just common back then to have so many. Kyle’s Grandmother had eleven. Honestly, I could never even imagine the level of humility one would need to have, in order to raise that many children.  Dr. Martin recalls these days with a level of understanding and compassion. The selflessness that he must have shown during his time here must have been overwhelming. He was basically on call  24/7 and dealt with unimaginable obstacles. He manages to stay refreshingly positive and humble throughout his books, and I am quiet positive that many folks from this area owe him their lives.

One of my favorite stories in which Doc shared was one of “The Rattlesnake and the Pussycat.” A squirrel hunter from Breathitt County had drunkenly mistaken a rattlesnake for a cat and tried to pet it, resulting in a nasty snakebite. As he was bit first thing in the morning, before the snake’s venom supply had been sufficiently depleted, he was in pretty bad shape by the time he reached Homeplace clinic. After being in shock, the man was given numerous units of plasma and nearly 12 viles of IV anti-venom. In nearly his 20 years in Eastern Kentucky, Martin estimated he had treated over a 100 copperhead bites and only three rattlesnakes, citing that in the area (which still goes on today) that snake handling was a part of church service activity. “It was believed that if you had enough faith, the rattlesnake would not bite you. If you were bitten, and you had enough faith, then you didn’t need medical care. It didn’t always work that way. Some people were bitten, and some did die.”

Martin came to know and admire many local personalities of that era. The glimpses and first hand knowledge he offers us is also a unique look on a lot of local history. These included J.S. Bell, Denzil Barker M.D., George Drushal and Hazard’s own,Willie Dawahare.

J.S. Bell was the pastor at Hindman First Baptist Church, and was the power behind the formation of satellite Sunday schools and mission churches in Knott County. He was also one of the front line fighters in the dry-wet war that was going on during the time. “The dry-wet forces were lined up for battle in the little town and the politicking got hot and heavy. Matter of fact, to be too outspoken for the drys could be flat out dangerous. Brother Bell didn’t flinch. He thrust himself into the fight with the drys and they won hands down. His family worried about his safety, but no one took a shot at him. I think about everybody admired his youthful courage.”

Denzil Barker was the son of coal miner, from Knott County Kentucky. Through Alice Lloyd College, he receieved his education and then went on to Tulane University to receive his MD. Barker was also a leading member of Hindman First Baptist Church, and one of Dr. Martin’s closest and most trusted friends. “He gave his professional life to the people of Knott County by simply being a darn good doctor, being available and living the life of service. We have worked toward a common goal. We have reared our families and we have kept in touch. The relationship illustrated the point that one of life’s greatest joys comes through intimate friendship.”

Willie Dawahare was a former mayor of Hazard, and the owner of Dawahares Men’s Store. “Willie was a friend to about anyone that knew him. He was instant warmth, like getting close to a stove on a winter day. He liked to see people happy and was an instant success in making happiness.” Dr. Martin was the first to tell Mr. Dawahare about the new procedure of doing open heart surgery and coronary bypass, using leg veins for the bypassed vessels, performed in Cleveland. After six months of contemplating, Dawahare underwent the procedure and came out a new man, with a new lease on life. Progress was certainly something that Dr. Martin soldiered, and he was extremely good at it, thankfully.

While Dr. Martin also reflects on many of his cases throughout the years, some of which my brain has trouble understanding, because I am obviously not a doctor, he also offers us up some wisdom concerning many of life’s major subjects; marriage, illness, religion, beliefs, compassion and death. He states that “Discipline is like castor oil, it’s awfully hard to take but can be very good for you if you need it.” He notes that “courage comes easier for some people than others. What makes up the fertile soil in which courage grows? Positive thinking, encouragement from intimate friends, religious faith and conviction, a willingness to accept a possible failure and still go on. Perseverance and a refusal to quit.” I think we can all learn something from this extraordinary man who served so many in his lifetime, and from all accounts, loved doing so.

 Of all of the stories that Donald Martin shared in this book, I think the story of “Polly” is the most appropriate, to show example of what kind of man and doctor he was. Dr. Martin had delivered Polly’s first child, and she ended up coming back to him with several hemorrhages. After four setbacks, two trips to Lexington and a hysterectomy later, she once again was experiencing life threatening bleeding. Dr. Martin rode with her in the ambulance to Good Samaritan Hospital in Lexington Kentucky, for (what was then) four hours over extremely treacherous mountain roads. He wanted to ensure that they didn’t lose her in the ambulance and felt that it was his duty to see to her. On the way he fell ill to motion sickness and was desperately miserable. Polly sang him hymns, despite her deteriorating condition and continued to squeeze his hand until they made it to their destination. She survived the ordeal, and was able to raise her son and keep the family going due, in part, to Dr. Martin’s efforts. When he was leaving Homeplace in 1969, she came to see him to say goodbye. “Doc Martin, I didn’t have time to go to town to get you nothing, so here take this.” She put something in my hand. I hugged her and she was gone. I have never seen her since. After she left, I opened my hand and there was a crushed up dollar bill. That dollar is still precious to me. I wouldn’t sell it for $5,000. It is in my office and framed to remind me of the event. It reminds me of the successful effort to save a life. It reminds me of the appreciation expressed by a simple mountain woman in the only way she knew how. It reminds me of the joy that is produced by loving and helping a fellow traveler on this earth. That is the bottom line of what it’s all about.”

Surely we could use more Doc Martins in this world.

My Favorite Christmas Children’s Books

Reading to your children is so important. Just reading to them for 30 minutes each day can foster an interest in learning and help to build their vocabulary. I try to read both of my children a book before bedtime and several spaced out all throughout the day. Yesterday I was plucking all of their Christmas book from the shelves and I realized that a lot of them were really, really cool. I have made a list of some of our favorite wintertime reads. These would make great gifts or stocking stuffers! Maybe you can even remember some of these classics!

1: Santa is coming to Kentucky-Steve Smallman

2:The Jolly Christmas Postman-Janet and Allan Ahlberg

3: How the Grinch Stole Christmas-Dr. Seuss

4: Home for Christmas-Jan Brett

5:Dream Snow-Eric Carle

6:The Mitten-Jan Brett

7:Spot’s First Christmas-Eric Hill

8:Letters from Father Christmas-JRR Tolkien

9:The Snowman- Raymond Briggs

10:The Polar Express- Chris Van Allsburg

11: The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree-Gloria Houston

12: A Christmas Memory-Truman Capote

13: The Legend of the Christmas Stocking-Rick Osbourne and James Griffith

14: A Charlie Brown Christmas-Charles M. Schultz

15: The Poky Little Puppy’s First Christmas- ( A little Golden  Book)

Quotes that Prove Rhett Butler is the Orignial Southern Bad Boy.

 All Southern women consider themselves one of two things. You’re either a Scarlett, or you’re a Melanie. I can remember reading Gone With The Wind for the first time and actually hating Scarlett O’Hara for the way she treated Rhett Butler. What was she doing? He was dark, handsome, rich, and a notorious bad boy. He was a devilish cad, a well known flatterer, and famous womanizer. Oh my dear lord, the way they sparred! They way they challenged each other! Their infamous fights and make ups! I believe my favorite things about Rhett was the way he spoke to Scarlett. The way he didn’t mind to tell her how it was in a world where every man she had ever known was falling head over heels just to have her talk to them. Re-reading this book has made me realize now, more than ever, that Rhett Butler has some serious style. Here’s a list of quotes that will have you swooning, and also make you realize that Mr. Butler truly was the original southern bad boy.


* “Sir”, she said, “you are no gentleman.”

An apt observation, he answered airily.
  
“And you miss are no lady.”

* “Until you’ve lost your reputation, you never really realize what a burden it was, or what freedom truly is.”

* “No, my dear, I’m not in love with you, no more than you are with me, and if I were, you would be the last person I’d ever tell. God help the man who ever really loves you. You’d break his heart, my darling, cruel, destructive little cat who is so careless and confident she doesn’t even trouble to sheathe her claws.”

* “I’m going away tomorrow for a long time and I fear that if I wait till I return you’ll have married some one else with a little money. So I thought, why not me and my money? Really, Scarlett, I can’t go all my life waiting to catch you between husbands. ”

* “I only know that I love you.”

“That’s your misfortune.”

* “That’s what’s wrong with you. All your beaux have respected you too much, though God knows why, or they have been too afraid of you to really do right by you. The result is that you are unendurably uppity. You should be kissed and by someone who knows how.”

* “Gentlemen all – what do they know about women? What do they know about you? I know you.”

*  ” There’s one thing I do know… and that is that I love you, Scarlett. In spite of you and me and the whole silly world going to pieces around us, I love you. Because we’re alike. Bad lots, both of us. Selfish and shrewd. But able to look things in the eyes as we call them by their right names.”

* “[Yankees] are pretty much like southerners except with worse manners, of course, and terrible accents.”

* “Madam, you flatter yourself. I do not want to marry you or anyone else. I am not a marrying man.”

 * “When I first met you, I thought: There is a girl in a million. She isn’t like these other silly little fools who believe everything their mammas tell them and act on it, no matter how they feel. And conceal all their feelings and desires and little heartbreaks behind a lot of sweet words. I thought: Miss O’Hara is a girl of rare spirit. She knows what she wants and she doesn’t mind speaking her mind–or throwing vases.” 
 
* “Did it ever occur to you that I loved you as much as a man can love a woman? Loved you for years before I finally got you? During the war I’d go away and try to forget you, but I couldn’t and I always had to come back. After the war I risked arrest, just to come back and find you. I cared so much I believe I would have killed Frank Kennedy if he hadn’t died when he did. I loved you but I couldn’t let you know it. You’re so brutal to those who love you, Scarlett. You take their love and hold it over their heads like a whip.” 

* “You can’t make me mad by calling me names that are true. Certainly I’m a rascal, and why not? It’s a free country and a man may be a rascal if he chooses. It’s only hypocrites like you, my dear lady, just as black at heart but trying to hide it, who becomes enraged when called by their right names.” 

* “All you’ve done is to be different from other women & you’ve made little success of it. As I’ve told you before, that is the one UNFORGIVABLE sin in society. Be different & be damned!”
  
*”I’m very drunk. And I intend on getting still drunker before this evening’s over.” 
 
* “I stood there in the doorway before you saw me and I watched you,’ he said.’And I watched the other girls. And they all looked as though their faces came out of one mold. Yours didn’t.” 

 * “I’ve always had a weakness for lost causes once they’re really lost.”

 * “Say you’ll marry me when I come back or, before God, I won’t go. I’ll stay around here and play a guitar under your window every night and sing at the top of my voice and compromise you, so you’ll have to marry me to save your reputation.”

* “Indeed? Well, I shall bring you presents so long as it pleases me and so long as I see things that will enhance your charms. I shall bring you dark-green watered silk for a frock to match the bonnet. And I warn you that I am not kind. I am tempting you with bonnets and bangles and leading you into a pit. Always remember I never do anything without reason and I never give anything without expecting something in return. I always get paid.” 

* “I want to make you faint. I will make you faint. You’ve had this coming to you for years. None of the fools you’ve known have kissed you like this – have they? Your precious Charles or Frank or your stupid Ashley… I said your stupid Ashley. Gentlemen all – what do they know about women? What do they know about you? I know you.”

* “Hush,” he said. “I am asking you to marry me. Would you be convinced if I knelt down?” 

* “I’m tempting you with fine gifts until your girlish ideals are quite worn away and you are at my mercy.” 

* “Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.” 

* “I’m riding you with a slack rein, my pet, but don’t forget that I’m riding with curb and spurs just the same.” 

* “You have eternity in which to explain and only one night to be a martyr in the amphitheater. Get out, darling, and let me see the lions eat you.” 

* “You can go to the Devil and not at your leisure. You can go now, for all I care.’
‘My pet, I’ve been to the Devil and he’s a very dull fellow. I won’t go there again, not even for you.”

* “But, hell, I wouldn’t have grudged him your body. I know how little bodies mean – especially women’s bodies. But I do grudge him your heart and your dear, hard, unscrupulous mind. He doesn’t want your mind, the fool, and I don’t want your body. I can buy women cheap. But I do want your mind and your heart, and I’ll never have them.”  

* “Scarlett, when you are forty-five, perhaps you will know what I’m talking about and then perhaps you, too, will be tired of imitation gentry and shoddy manners and cheap emotions. But I doubt it. I think you’ll always be more attracted by glitter than by gold.” 

* “He wasn’t a gentleman and there was no telling what men would do when they weren’t gentlemen. There was no standard to judge them by.”

Finally….

* “I wish I could care what you do or where you go but I can’t… My dear, I don’t give a damn.”
 

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier: A Tale of Romantic Suspense.

 In honor of Halloween quickly approaching, I had to write about a book that was chosen by Alfred Hitchcock to be the inspiration for one his extremely creepy films. Whenever anyone asks me what my favorite novel is, Rebecca is always my answer. I read the book when I was in highschool. I was really big into the old Hollywood movie scene, and was going through a period where the only channel I watched, was Turner Classic Movies. Late one night, I caught the movie Rebecca, which was one of Alfred Hitchcock’s first films, and in my opinion one of  his best. After being completely enthralled with Sir Lawrence Olivier, and Joan Foantaine (Olivier was the husband of Vivian Leigh (Scarlett O’Hara) and Fontaine was the sister of Olivia De Haviland (Melanie) I found out that the movie was based on a book by Du Maurier. Du Maurier also wrote “The Birds,” whom Hitchcock, as you probably know, adapted for the big screen as well. I could not wait to get my hands on this novel. I went straight to the library and checked a copy out. It took me a day to finish it.

Daphne Du Maurier was an English writer, and a master of suspense. She is still revered today as an author who bases her work on her ability to gain and hold the reader’s suspense throughout an entire novel. (Something I really enjoy.) Rebecca is no different. The story is told from the point of view of the second Mrs. De Winter, which is symbolic to the theme. Her real name is never revealed. The setting is the Cornish coast in the 30’s, on an extremely opulent estate named Manderly. Hence, the first and most famous line, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again… I came upon it suddenly; the approach masked by the unnatural growth of a vast shrub that spread in all directions… There was Manderley, our Manderley, secretive and silent as it had always been, the gray stone shining in the moonlight of my dream, the mullioned windows reflecting the green lawns and terrace. Time could not wreck the perfect symmetry of those walls, nor the site itself, a jewel in the hollow of a hand.” An ordinary girl gets thrown into the raging waters of the rich, and high born, and has absolutely no clue how to deal with it, or how to deal with her dead predecessor, her husband’s first wife.

The novel is centered around the lives of Maxim De Winter, and his new bride. After a whirlwind courtship in Monte Carlo at the Cote De Azur, they are married. An air of mystery surrounds Maxim, as whispers of his fragility and state of mind come into play, after the untimely and strange death of his beautiful, and beloved first wife, only a year prior. The second Mrs. De Winter is extremely young, is of no breeding, and has no idea how to run a large estate such as Manderly. Nor does she know how “to be a great lady”, as it is put in the book.

From the moment she walks through the doors, everyone from her husbands closest friend, down to the house staff is comparing her to Rebecca. She begins to develop a morbid curiosity about Maxim’s first wife and becomes almost obsessed with the idea of Rebecca, and also the idea of Rebecca and Maxim together, in their old life. The current Mrs. De Winter also becomes increasingly jealous of Rebecca’s rumoured poise, wisdom and beauty, as told to her by various people in her husband’s rank. To make matters worse, Mrs. Danvers, the extremely creepy head maid, was Rebecca’s nanny growing up and the person who had practically raised her. She becomes bitterly jealous of Mrs. De Winter and continues to torture her psychologically. Danvers takes her to Rebecca’s rooms, where nothing had been touched since the night before she died. She has an extremely unhealthy obsession with Rebecca and preserving her memory. She shows her lingerie, brushes, her fur coats, and makes her smell Rebecca’s perfume, then tries to persuade her to commit suicide.

As the novel goes on, a plot twist knocks you off your feet, and has you reading every page as quickly as you can to see what happens next. Did Maxim truly love Rebecca? Was she as beautiful, kind and glamorous as they say? Did she honestly die in a boating accident? What was the nature of the relationship between husband and wife? All of these questions are answered in the final few chapters of the book. There is even a British inquest to read through, which I thought was extremely interesting. By the end of the book, you will realize the complexity of the human character, and that sometimes, you can not always judge a book, person, or relationship by it’s cover. You’ll have to pick your jaw up off the floor, and think about the book for the next several days.

 

Du Maurier explores jealousy, the examination in the differences between public relationships, and private relationships, mental illness, obsession, and the lives of powerful people as opposed to ordinary people. While all this is whirling about your head, she also manages to paint the picture of a love story. Grab a blanket and get comfortable, it’s a lot to take in.

I suggest watching the movie after reading the book. I can reveal too much detail without revealing spoilers, but the movie was heralded as one of the great technical victories in production of it’s time (1940) and earned Fontaine an Academy nod. Not to mention, Lawrence Olivier is just amazing in every aspect, especially for a great stage performer who was not much on acting for film.

In short, read the book. It will make you feel warm and fuzzy, give you goosebumps, have you trying to figure out a mystery and make you use your brain all in one. Oh, and the library does have it. I’ve checked. Happy reading, everyone.

10 Books About Appalachia That Need to be in Your Child’s Library.

1: Trouble in Troublesome Creek-Nancy Kelly Allen

2: When I was Young In The Mountains.-Cynthia Rylant

3: The Relatives Came.-Cynthia Rylant

4: My Mountain Song-Shutta Crum

5: Appalachia: The voices of singing birds.-Cynthia Rylant

6: My Great Aunt Arizona- Gloria Houston

7: Ida Early Comes Over The Mountain-Robert Burch

8: A Penny’s Worth Of Character-Jesse Stuart

9: The Big Toe: An Appalachian Ghost Story-Ellie Kirby

10: Miss Dorothy and Her Book Mobile.- Gloria Houston

Book of Summer: What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Love and Friendship. By Carole Radziwill

Every summer, I read a lot of books. I always have. It is just something I enjoy. I will scour every thrift shop around here for dime and dollar treasures and I take them straight home and devour them in days. I love it.

I had been looking for this book for a solid year, and then by some twist of fate I ended up paying a quarter for it at the mission. I was so excited. I first saw it on pinterest when I was nosing through some photographs of The Kennedys. Anyone that knows me, knows that I will read anything about them. I watch all the conspiracy theory shows, I have read all of Jackie’s biographies, I have even read a memoir by Clint Hill, the secret service agent who watched over Jackie and her children. Needless to say, I am hooked.

The book is a memoir about Radziwill’s life. A 19 year old middle class girl from New York who becomes an award winning producer and marries a Polish Prince. Anthony Radziwill was the son of Caroline Lee Bouvier Radziwill, sister to Jackie Kennedy. This made him cousin to John John (JFK JR). Radziwill is thrust into a world of American royalty as well as European nobility, while balancing her spectacular career. She became best friends with JFK JR and his beautiful wife, Carolyn Besette Kennedy. Her life seemed perfect. It was from all accounts. And then her husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she lost him and her two best friends within two weeks of each other. One from illness, the other in a plane crash off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.

                                            Anthony and Carole Radziwill on their wedding day.

Some of you may know Carole Radziwill (De Falco) from The Real Housewives. She was also an emmy award winning producer and journalist with ABC news before she married into one of the most famous families in the world. I guess when you marry the nephew of Jackie Onassis, all that doesn’t matter. I probably would not have read the book, if I had known that. But she does a wonderful job. I read it in two days. I laughed. I cried. I thought about it weeks after I had finished it. It made me truly thankful for my health and the health of my husband and my children.

Radziwill touches on two very different types of tragedy. The type of tragedy that you know is inevitable. The kind you can plan for, try to reroute, say your goodbyes and tick things you need to do “before” off the list. She and her husband fought the cancer until the very end. “There is the disease and the person, and though I am living with both, one has robbed me of the other.”

 She also touches on the type of tragedy that takes the wind right out of your sails. The kind that is unplanned, unfathomable, and horrifying. The type of thing that is every person’s worst nightmare. I, myself, can’t imagine. “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.”

                                                                  JFK JR and CBK
                                               
I am not sure which type is worse. I never want to find out. I can’t say that either outweighs the other, they are just as hefty but in different ways. The book has a very melancholy feel to it. I felt sad for a few days after, but I really did enjoy reading it. The author manages to shy away from making it Kennedy centered, which I was surprised by because, of course, everyone likes to revel in the family’s misfortune. She seemed to genuinely adore them and want to capture their essence. Speaking of JFK JR holding his dying cousin’s hand and singing a child hood lullaby. (Brought me to tears) She also spoke of Carolyn and how she gave Anthony a framed picture of her dog to keep in his hospital room, because “[e]veryone should have a dog.”  Radziwill shined light on a famously private couple and painted a beautiful tribute of them, as well as to her life with her Anthony, her husband, while speaking of her early childhood and her career and travels. All in all, a very interesting read. I could not put it down. But please, get a box of tissues, you will need them.

I have included some reviews of What Remains. It was a New York Times Bestseller and actually was not marketed as a “Kennedy” book.

“A moving testimony to the tenuous nature of love and life.”
USA Today
 

“Stunning…Radziwill gets at the essence of what matters — friendship, compassion, destiny.”
— Oprah Winfrey, O, the oprah Magazine
“A riveting and heartbreaking journey.”
— Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle
“A stunning memoir of love and loss…Carole Radziwill is a natural storyteller.”
O, 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