September 30, 2019

The Rainbow Comes and Goes

The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love, and Loss by Anderson Cooper & Gloria Vanderbilt
Nonfiction - Memoir
2016 HarperAudio
Read by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt
Finished on September 3, 2019
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

A touching and intimate correspondence between Anderson Cooper and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, offering timeless wisdom and a revealing glimpse into their lives

Though Anderson Cooper has always considered himself close to his mother, his intensely busy career as a journalist for CNN and CBS affords him little time to spend with her. After she suffers a brief but serious illness at the age of ninety-one, they resolve to change their relationship by beginning a year-long conversation unlike any they had ever had before. The result is a correspondence of surprising honesty and depth in which they discuss their lives, the things that matter to them, and what they still want to learn about each other.

Both a son’s love letter to his mother and an unconventional mom’s life lessons for her grown son, The Rainbow Comes and Goes offers a rare window into their close relationship and fascinating life stories, including their tragedies and triumphs. In these often humorous and moving exchanges, they share their most private thoughts and the hard-earned truths they’ve learned along the way. In their words their distinctive personalities shine through—Anderson’s journalistic outlook on the world is a sharp contrast to his mother’s idealism and unwavering optimism.

An appealing memoir with inspirational advice, The Rainbow Comes and Goes is a beautiful and affectionate celebration of the universal bond between a parent and a child, and a thoughtful reflection on life, reminding us of the precious insight that remains to be shared, no matter our age.

I first encountered Anderson Cooper's exceptional writing when I l read his previous memoir Dispatches from the Edge (reviewed here) and fell in love with his stories. I opted for the audio version of his new book and found enjoyment in both his and his mother's narratives. Gloria's voice brings so much emotion to the memoir, I found myself tearing up as she shared painful memories of her childhood, as well as that of the loss of her son, Carter. I borrowed a hard copy of the book from my library in order to mark my favorite passages, but think I may have to buy a copy for a second reading. This was such a great memoir!
When we're young we all waste so much time being reserved or embarrassed with our parents, resenting them or wishing they and we were entirely different people. This changes when we become adults, but we don't often explore new ways of talking and conversing, and we put off discussing complex issues or raising difficult questions. We think we'll do it one day, in the future, but life gets in the way, and then it's too late. I didn't want there to be anything left unsaid between my mother and me, so on her ninety-first birthday I decided to start a new kind of conversation with her, a conversation about her life. It ended up changing our relationship, bringing us closer than either of us had ever thought possible. (Anderson)
My mom has been famous for longer than just about anyone else alive today. Her birth made headlines, and for better or worse, she's been in the public eye ever since. Her successes and failure have played out on a very brightly lit stage, and she has lived many different lives; she has been an actress, an artist, a designer, and a writer; she's made fortunes, lost them, and made them back again. She has survived abuse, the loss of her parents, the death of a spouse, the suicide of a son, and countless other traumas and betrayals that might have defeated someone without her relentless determination. (Anderson)
My mom is now ninety-two, but she has never looked her age and she has rarely felt it, either. People often say about someone that age, "She's as sharp as ever," but my mom is actually sharper than ever. She sees her past in perspective. The little things that once seemed important to her no longer are. She has clarity about her life that I am only beginning to have about mine. (Anderson)
How can my body betray me when there is so much still to be done? You see, it isn't age itself that betrays you; it is your body, and with its deterioration goes your power. You end up obsessed, entirely focused on your health, paying attention to every nuance, every ache and pain. Instead of working or living your life, you waste your time on appointments with doctors. (Gloria)
I wish I had written this post as soon as I'd finished listening to the book. It's been almost a month and life has been very hectic, so I'm afraid this is all I can share. If you're a fan of memoirs, you don't want to miss this one. It's not just a memoir about Gloria Vanderbilt's life (which was very enlightening), but also a inspirational, heartfelt love letter between a mother and her son. Highly recommend!


  1. Oh, this sounds like one I'd enjoy Les. I do like Anderson Cooper and am curious to learn more about their relationship.

    1. Diane, it was really very enjoyable. I learned so much about Gloria Vanderbilt!

  2. Wow, the fact that you want to buy a hard copy says a lot about this book.

    1. Kathy, it was definitely a winner.

  3. Love the flowers above!!

    1. Thanks, Kay. I took that photo when we were wandering around Nye Beach (Newport) one afternoon. The garden is at the Sylvia Beach Hotel.


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