The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love, and Loss

by Anderson Cooper

Paperback, 2017




Harper Paperbacks (2017), Edition: Reprint, 320 pages


A charming and intimate collection of correspondence between #1 New York Times bestselling author Anderson Cooper and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, that offers timeless wisdom and a revealing glimpse into their lives. Anderson Cooper's intensely busy career as a journalist for CNN and CBS' 60 Minutes affords him little time to spend with his ninety-one year old mother. After she briefly fell ill, he and Gloria began a conversation through e-mail unlike any they had ever had before--a correspondence of surprising honesty and depth in which they discussed 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 in her final years and an unconventional mother's life lessons for her grown son, The Rainbow Comes and Goes offers a rare window into their close relationship and fascinating lives. In these often hilarious and touching exchanges, they share their most private thoughts and the hard-earned truths they've learned along the way. Throughout, their distinctive personalities shine through--Anderson's darker outlook on the world is a brilliant contrast to his mother's idealism and unwavering optimism. An appealing blend of memoir and inspirational advice, The Rainbow Comes and Goes is a beautiful and affectionate celebration of the profound and universal bond between a parent and child, and, like Tuesdays with Morrie, a thoughtful reflection on life and love, reminding us of the precious knowledge and insight that remains to be shared, no matter what age we are.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member sweetiegherkin
In this unusual dual memoir, Anderson Cooper and his mother Gloria Vanderbilt share a series of emails they wrote back and forth to one another over the course of a year. The "project" began after Vanderbilt suffered a bout of illness in her 90s and Cooper thought it was high time that he learned all he wanted to know about his mother, especially things about her early life.

This book was recommended to me by a co-worker, but I honestly wasn't that hyped to jump on the bandwagon. But I was looking for a next audiobook to read, and I saw this while browsing and decided it would be good to finally follow up on that recommendation. I was blown away by how interested I was in this book. I knew little about Vanderbilt's celebrated life beyond that she was born into an enormously wealthy family and that she designed jeans. The story of her tumultuous upbringing, including the infamous child custody case in which her mother and her aunt fought over her, were new to me and heartbreaking. Her teen-aged and adult years flitting around from marriage to marriage and hobnobbing at one celebrity outing or another were interesting to hear about, although also unsettling in their own way. Further misfortune plagued her when her husband Wyatt Cooper died at a young age and her son Carter Cooper committed suicide. But throughout it all, she remains ever hopeful about the future, despite being plagued by insecurities, fears, and doubts.

Cooper for his part mostly asks questions of his mother; his reporter's tenacity digs deeper into certain topics to find out more or get to the root of a story. He also provides some context for the reader regarding some of his mother's comments, filling in blanks about her family history with a "just the facts" type approach. But he also discusses his own thoughts and feelings about growing up as Vanderbilt's son, regrets about his brother's suicide, and grief over his father's death when he himself was only aged 10.

Listening to the audiobook for this book was a particular treat. Both authors read their parts aloud, so that a clear and distinct voice separates each section. Cooper's voice is not exactly monotone but he reads in that sort of bland, affect-less news anchor's voice. An entire book in this fashion might have been too much, but being as he alternates with his mother, it works out okay. On the other hand, Vanderbilt pours so much emotion into her reading! Even when speaking about events that happened 80 years ago, her voice trembles at sad points and leaps for joy when discussing moments of elation. It was such a moving reading that you can't help but be riveted.
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LibraryThing member Citizenjoyce
I knew little about Gloria Vanderbilt except for the poor little rich girl trial and her jeans. Kudos to Anderson for giving her a platform to talk about her life, unfortunately, that life doesn't do much for me. You've heard the saying "the personal is political?" Well, her personal is personal. In the book she writes several letters to loved ones and they are full of platitudes. Love and family are the most important things in life, etc, etc. She's still, at the age of 91, looking for a man to love her and whom she can love, yet once the romance dies, she seems unable to sustain loyalty. She'd leave one husband to marry another as soon as the divorce was final. Dodo, the most important person in her life for many years, her substitute mother, was left without a second thought when yet a new romance came into her life. Then as Dodo lay dying she destroyed the letter that probably asked for her to visit because she was scared? guilty? She is brave to expose her faults, but did it ever occur to her that there is life outside her superficial fairy tales?… (more)
LibraryThing member PamelaBarrett
This isn’t a book I would usually pick up to read, but one of my clients told me she also thought she wouldn’t like it until she read it and loved it. So cautiously I started reading it in-between chapters of another book, and I finally put the other book down because The Rainbow Comes and Goes captured my heart. First of all it’s not just a book about two celebrities giving us a look at how the other-side lives; it’s an intimate conversation between a mother and son about how it felt growing up after their fathers died. How they dealt with loss and grief, and how they craved love from mothers who didn’t know how to help them. As I read it I could relate to their universal story of childhood loss, and I read parts to my husband, because when he was eight years old his father also died. Anderson and Gloria have given voice to two different sides of living through grief and how it shapes the child into the adult they become. I definitely recommend this book and give it 4 stars.… (more)
LibraryThing member Whisper1
I usually try to find something good about a book, even if, after spending time reading it, I still cannot find a lot to say .Therefore, in saying little about this book, it reinforces that I don't like it.

Usually, I am kind, but in saying that I don't find a lot of redeeming value, this also indicates how I feel.

I like autobiographies and biographies. Before joining, it was my genre of choice. So, in saying that this book seemed to be incredibly self centered and boring, I remain thinking that I cannot recommend this.
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LibraryThing member ToniFGMAMTC
3.5 stars

This was an interesting look inside the lives of Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper. I really didn’t know much about either. I enjoyed the frankness of their dialogue. There’s so much good stuff in there to make a person think about life in general.
LibraryThing member Amniot
Presuming this is the same version available from library in MP3 format It is read by the authors, which gives it an immediacy that I can't imagine getting from the book version. I found this riveting, but unfortunately Gloria comes across as a deeply disturbed person who bounced from one man to another, abandoned her beloved governess, and drank too much. She had horrible parents, but it's hard to fathom her behavior. Still, it is very sweet to hear her and Anderson Cooper trying to piece together a relationship.… (more)
LibraryThing member SigmundFraud
The Rainbow Comes and Goes is a sensitive touching book. It is an oral history with Anderson Cooper asking questions of his mother Gloria Vanderbilt. Gloria gives much more of herself than Anderson. As in life, Anderson holds his cards to his chest and that is one of the weaknesses of the book. Gloria is admirable and amazing in. Brought up by her Aunt Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney with an endless supply of money, she yearns for her parents. Her father, Reginald Vanderbilt went down with the Titanic when Gloria was just a baby and her mother, too young, was 18 when she married Vanderbilt went of to Paris to live bringing Gloria and her devoted Nurse Dodo with her. But in fact her mother was partying around Europe and ignoring and neglecting Little Gloria. Finally there was a custody battle between her mother and Aunt Gertrude and Gertrude won and took custody of the child. Despite all this Gloria grew up to have a positive attitude and reminds us and herself that "the rainbow comes and goes".This is a book about feelings and emotions and as such it touches you the reader. I highly recommend this book.… (more)
LibraryThing member terrylynn
A beautiful love letter between a mother and a son
LibraryThing member sbenne3
I really enjoyed this conversation between Anderson and his mom - I got a few life lessons from their very candid exchange. This is a quick read that is a bit of a twist on a traditional biography in that it is told through a series of email exchanges and conversations between a mother and a son. Worth the time and great perspective on not always judging a book by its cover.… (more)
LibraryThing member tututhefirst
What a beautifully written and powerful story. Anderson Cooper (of CNN/CBS fame, and his mother Gloria Vanderbilt who turns 92 shortly, embarked on a correspondence last year to finally open up to each other and get to know long held memories. Set as a series of emails, it is a true page-turner. Each one is honest and kind, while revealing events and emotions many would never have allowed to surface. 4 stars… (more)
LibraryThing member Meandu91
I was touched by the honest communication and obvious love this mother and son have for one another. Gloria is a strong and tenacious women who endured much as young child and her story is one of resilience, hope and love for her sons. This book should inspire all mothers and sons to embark on a year of sharing their life's story with one another.… (more)
LibraryThing member nospi
Excellent 21st epistolary of emails sent between motherand son over the course of a year. The son in this case is journalist Anderson Cooper and his mother is the renowned Gloria Vanderbild.

I read the Audble version narrated by each of them. It is truly a remarkable book as the reader learns how Gloria felt when she was termed by the media as the "poor little rich girl" and how both of them dealt with tragedies in their lives.

Ms. Vanderbilt, approaching 92 years of age, offers wonderful lessons to live by.
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LibraryThing member Susan.Macura
Anderson Cooper is my favorite newsman. I find his reporting to be fair and accurate combined with genuine empathy and sympathy for those stories he covers that involve loss and tragedy. After reading this book, I can see how and why he developed the traits I so admire that he exhibits in his profession. This is a wonderfully candid look at the relationship between mother and son from both sides of the equation. Ms. Vanderbilt is an icon who also happened to become the mother of another. This was a fascination read.… (more)
LibraryThing member Writermala
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Gloria Vanderbilt'srecounting her story as a child, young adult, and adult made interesting reading as did Anderson Cooper's reaction to this account.

This book may be the interaction of a famous mother and an equally famous son, but it is mainly an account a mother and son on Life, Love, and Loss.… (more)
LibraryThing member arubabookwoman
Ugh!! Remind me not to ever again read any celebrity memoirs! This was recommended (not enthusiastically, but nevertheless recommended) as a touching conversation between a mother and son. Gloria Vanderbilt is approaching her 90's when she and her son Anderson Cooper commence a series of email conversations touching on the "big" issues of life, love and loss.

For the most part the book focuses on Gloria's life, a lot of it her really early life as "the poor little rich girl," who was the subject of a sensational custody trial in the 1930's. Her teen years and her early 20's as the lover of Howard Hughes and various Hollywood stars is also covered in detail. There is very little about Anderson's life, and some of the material his mother reveals is new to him. For the most part I found the book superficial and artificial.

I was a little creeped out by a mom discussing her sex life with her son (prude--I know). While I think Gloria means to convey that she was insecure, and is just a "regular" person, but with a very sunny outlook on life, somehow, for me, she never overcame the persona of a spoiled, entitled rich person.

I just don't need to read any more of these celebrity tell-alls in the time I have left of my reading life.

2 stars
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LibraryThing member TMLibrary
Too much time spent on Gloria's mother (a Lesbian) battle for Gloria and on Gloria's many marriages & loves. Too little on Anderson (a gay Yale graduate) and his work. Gloria 91 and Anderson 48 or 49 at time of writing. Book is actually one-year's worth of emails between them. Anderson's father, Wyatt Cooper, dies when Anderson is 10. His brother, Carter, commits suicide at 22 or 23 by jumping off the 14th floor balcony of Gloria's NYC apartment. Title of book refers to the ups and downs of life.… (more)
LibraryThing member LivelyLady
A year long conversation between Anderson Cooper and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. I found it confusing with the family history. I appreciated the different type for mother and for son. Would like t have heard more from Cooper about his growing up.
LibraryThing member hemlokgang
I will say up front that I am an Anderson Cooper fan, and I really wasn't familiar with his mother's infamous childhood. I was totally engrossed with this book. I listened to the audio version, with Cooper and his mother narrating. It was interesting on multiple levels. Themes included the mother-child relationship, the tragedies that shape a person's future, the difference in parenting styles, and life among the old world of old money. It ain't all it's cracked up to be. Excellent listen!… (more)
LibraryThing member Dianekeenoy
Not great but definitely interesting
LibraryThing member trayceetee
Until I saw this item on the "new books" shelf, I didn't even realize Gloria Vanderbilt was Anderson Cooper's mother. I thought this would be a great read, giving history of Gloria and Anderson's lives together. It's always nice, too, to hear the author(s) reading their own work. I was a bit disappointed, though, in how much this profiled Gloria's childhood and really didn't spend much time on her life with Anderson. I mean, they touched on it, but this was, largely, an autobiography of/by Gloria Vanderbilt, with a little Anderson Cooper thrown in. It was interesting, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for.… (more)
LibraryThing member etxgardener
With the death of Gloria Vanderbilt earlier this year, I couldn't resist the audible edition of this book that is narrated by the authors. Gloria Vanderbilt lived her life in tabloid headlines from the lurid fight for her custody when she was ten years old to her marriage to a two-bit Hollywood gangster and then to Leopold Stokowski who was over 40 years older than she was. She finally found happiness in her fourth marriage to Wyatt Cooper, (Anderson Cooper's father), only to lose him at age 50 to heart disease. She then had a third act with her line of designer jeans followed by a final tragedy when her eldest son committed suicide at age 23.

Listening to Ms. Vanderbilt describe all this in her own voice is mesmerizing. She looked at her life clear-eyed and without excuses, and her son Anderson clearly adored her. It was a pleasure to listen to the two of them examine their relationship, their joys and their fears and declare their importance to each other. Everyone should be so lucky to have this kind of honesty with a parent.
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LibraryThing member KatherineGregg
Cooper Anderson and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, together tell the story of their lives by means of a years worth of correspondence. Anderson poses questions and his mother responds, revealing stories of her fascinating but bittersweet life. Both Anderson and his mother narrate the book.
LibraryThing member MaggieFlo
Mildly interesting exchange between Anderson Cooper of CNN fame and his mother Gloria Vanderbilt. It is a an edited email exchange between the two when Vanderbilt is 92 years old. Anderson asks some tough questions about her past, her family, her insecurities, optimism, artistic enterprises, four husbands and lovers and the suicide of his brother, Carter.
The reader learns a great deal about Gloria’s mother, who was a teenager married to an alcoholic Reginald when her daughter was born. Reginald died soon after and the scandal surrounding the upbringing of Gloria ensued. Good beach or winter storm read.

The story I
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LibraryThing member gypsysmom
This was an interesting look at the life of an interesting woman, Gloria Vanderbilt. Her son, Anderson Cooper, convinced his mother to write down some of her recollections of her long life (she was 91 at the time) as responses to questions he asked her, mostly by email. From her early life Gloria was the subject of news reports and gossip and she talks quite candidly about her life. The two of them narrate this audiobook.… (more)
LibraryThing member haymaai
I don’t typically like to read memoirs, but because I’ve been so impressed with Anderson Cooper and how he personifies such dignity, while exhibiting compassion for others through his interviews, I decided to give this book a try. As this work, consisting of emails between mother and son, provides a glimpse into the enigmatic lives of Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper, it also allows one to penetrate their thoughts as they reflect upon their somewhat tragic and traumatic life experiences. As a young girl, Gloria was constantly uprooted, and was raised by her nanny Dodo, while her mother traveled about Europe. At 10, she was the center of a custody trial in which her aunt Gertrude was embroiled in a court battle with her mother to obtain control over her trust fund. In her youth, Gloria Vanderbilt, heiress to the Vanderbilt fortune, dated interesting men, such as Roald Dahl, Frank Sinatra, and Marlon Brando, and she married four times. When Anderson was a young man, his older brother Carter tragically committed suicide at the age of 23. Earlier in Anderson’s life, his father Wyatt Cooper became ill and died when Anderson was only 10 years old. Those significant events had a profound effect on Anderson and shaped him to become the compassionate, thoughtful man he is today.
I’m giving this book five stars because I really appreciated the reflections and musing about life, as Gloria and Anderson shared some very heart-rendering reflections about personal issues and their philosophies in how they viewed their lives at that point in time. While relating to what was shared, I was completely in tears by the end of this read.
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Original language


Physical description

320 p.; 5.31 inches


0062454951 / 9780062454959
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