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A Second Wind: The True Story that Inspired the Motion Picture The Intouchables Paperback – May 22, 2012


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A Second Wind: The True Story that Inspired the Motion Picture The Intouchables + You Changed My Life + The Intouchables
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Mti edition (May 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451689705
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451689709
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #264,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Philippe Pozzo di Borgo spent his childhood in Paris, London, Amsterdam, Trinidad, Morocco, Algeria and Corsica. He now lives in Essaouira, Morocco. A descendent of both the Ducs Pozzo di Borgo and the Marquises de Vogue, he is the former director of Pommery Champagnes (LVMH). His bestselling memoir Le Second Souffle (Second Wind) served as the basis for the hit French film, Intouchables (Untouchables).

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Memories Unbound

THE FAULT LINE running through my bones, through my every breath, may be the day of the accident: on June 23, 1993, I became paralyzed. But then on May 3, 1996, St. Philip’s Day, Béatrice died. So now I have no past, I have no claim to the future, I am just this pain that I feel at every moment. Béatrice has been stripped back in the same way, reduced to this ever-present feeling of loss. And yet there is a future, that of our two children, Laetitia and Robert-Jean.

Until the accident, I was someone in the world, anxious to leave my mark on events, to make things; since then I have become prey to endless thoughts and, since Béatrice died, to endless grief.

Shadowy memories emerged from these ruins, vague recollections, which at first the pain of paralysis and of mourning would blur during my caffeine-fueled nights. Searching deep within myself, I found the likenesses of the people I’d lost. Then my long, silent vigils started to bring back long-forgotten moments of happiness. My life flowed past me in a stream of images.

I couldn’t speak for the first few months after the accident because I’d had a tracheostomy—trach for short—an operation to insert a breathing tube into my windpipe so I could be put on a ventilator. A friend installed a computer and rigged up a set of controls for me under my chin. The alphabet constantly scrolled past on the screen; whenever I stopped the cursor, it would pick out a letter. Slowly these would coalesce to form a word, a sentence, half a page. I loved choosing the right word, the exhausting effort required to type it, the need for precision. Every letter had its own weight, mooring what I wrote like an anchor. I loved the meticulousness of it all. And I had a comrade in arms, Jean-Dominique Bauby, the author of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, who wrote by blinking and died when he reached the last letter.

My own words strangle me when I think of anyone who has died alone, without being able to speak or bear witness or feel any hope.

Lying on my bed at night, I sleep badly. I am paralyzed, after all. After a while, once the trach tube was removed and I could speak again, they put a tape recorder on my stomach. It stops when it can’t hear anything—or when it feels like it—and doesn’t start again until something new has been said. I never know if I’ve been recorded. Often I’m stumped for words anyway. It’s hard telling a story when you’re not sitting at a desk with a piece of paper in front of you and your forehead propped in your left hand, when you can’t just let it rip, scribble away and cross things out or start again, when there’s only the voice of someone who could be dead and a tape deck irrevocably recording what you say, with no room for second thoughts, no crossings out. The snapshots of a faltering memory…

I’ve lost the thread now. It’s dark and I hurt all over. My shoulders hunch up and I feel a shooting pain on the top of the right one, as if I’ve been stabbed. I have to stop. My cat, F-sharp, is having a lovely time clambering all over my body that is quivering and arching backward as if beseeching God for something. Spasming and shaking, suddenly it’s all too much for me, tears well up. The cat, as usual, is a picture of blithe indifference. It spends the whole night playing around on top of me, as if it needs my convulsive shudders to feel alive.

The subcutaneous fire burning continuously from my shoulders to the tips of my fingers and toes is all too liable to blaze up at any moment. From the burning in my body I can tell if it’s going to be fine tomorrow or rain. I feel scalding, corrosive pain in my hands, my buttocks, down my thighs, around my knees, at the base of my calves.

They quarter me, stretching out my arms and legs in the hope it will bring me some relief, but the pain doesn’t let up. They call it phantom pain. Phantom my ass! I cry because I’m in pain, not because I’m sad. I wait for the tears to give me some respite, until I’ve cried myself into a stupor.

We used to make love at night by candlelight, whispering to each other. She’d fall asleep in the early hours in the crook of my neck. I still talk to her.

Sometimes, sick with loneliness, I turn to Flavia, a film student. She has a beaming smile, a sumptuous mouth, a quizzical left eyebrow. When she stands with her back to the window in her flowing, light blue dress, she doesn’t realize she might as well be wearing nothing, that her twenty-seven-year-old frame can still arouse a phantom. I let her transcribe everything, I have no decency, she is transparent.

The cat comes back to sit on my stomach. When he changes position, my body tenses as if it’s revolted by him being here and not Béatrice.

I have to talk about the good times though, I have to forget the suffering. Why not start with the final moments of my life, my foreseeable and sometimes longed-for death that will reunite me with Béatrice. I will leave the ones I love to be with the one I have loved so much. Even if her paradise doesn’t exist, I trust that’s where she will be because she believed in it. Because that’s what I want. Freed from all our suffering, we’ll be together there, cocooned in each other’s arms, our eyes closed for eternity. A rustle of silken wings, Béatrice’s blond hair stirs.…

Béatrice, who art in Heaven, save me.

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Customer Reviews

The story is wonderful and heartwarming.
rnlawr
It just goes to show in life, you can do anything if you try hard enough.
Princess Damiella
The kind of true story that bring tearful eyes, hoped to the soul.
Ivonne

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Turnier on July 28, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you liked the movie, the book will disappoint you. It has none of the playfulness of the movie and concentrates largely on romance and sexual longing.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Linda Miller on July 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Another book I picked up because the trailer to the movie looked funny. There were many humourous one liners and stories, but the physical pain and heart break expressed by Philippe Pozzo di Borgo was over whelming to read, yet I couldn't stay away. I finished the book with a greater appreciation of others pain and experiences different from my own.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ivonne on June 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
The kind of true story that bring tearful eyes, hoped to the soul. I, loved and know that any viewer will.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bob Pr. on September 28, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I saw the movie, "The Intouchables," and while I thoroughly enjoyed it, I also believed much of it had to be fantasy--that Abdel would not be able to change so much, so rapidly (in a year), and that a variety of other things couldn't be true.

So I bought and read both "A Second Wind" by Phillipe Pozzo (& "You Saved My Life" by Abdel Sellou -- reviewed under its title).

Both are worthwhile.

So is the movie but it's essentially a feel good, inspirational, comedic fairy tale with a bit of reality and with large doses of made-up comedy.

Phillippe's book gives you a lot of the similar kind of reality I imagine you'd get from reading the book that served as the basis for movie, "The Diving Bell & the Butterfly"-- the story of another French quadraplegic who managed to tell his story just before he died.

Phillippe's is just as moving and perhaps more so.

We find out how devoted he was to his first wife, Beatrice; that Abdel worked with Phillipe for a year before she died and then for 9 years after. We feel the pain and become astounded by the courage that Phillippe as a quadraplegic shows and so continually demonstrates.

What a remarkable man, now devoting himself and many of his resources to others who are disabled.

You won't get much of the comedy that the writers/directors suffused "The Intouchables" with.

But you will get a first person account from a man with remarkable, admirable courage and empathy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ms. S. Frick on September 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
I saw the very funny movie inspired by the book some time ago. Having nothing else to read I picked up the book in a bookshop yesterday, I haven't put it down since. The style of writing is deeply involving, it tells of the personal experience and suffering through physical illness in a heartfelt way with great tenderness.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By min7 on March 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As they say, the book is always best - and I was not disappointed. I was glad I read the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cheri L. Haynes on September 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ok, so I thought this would be a different story than the other 'You changed my life', and it was, but this is more indepth, the other more like the movie. I LOVED THE MOVIE
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By readsalot on August 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book was very disappointing after seeing the movie and how often is that the case? The movie was about the relationship between 2 men and how they both benefitted from their differences. It was warm and funny. The book is focused on Phillippe, his life, his childhood, his family etc. Some small pieces or stories in the book are in the movie but overall it was not a story about their relationship. It was one of a few books in my life that I closed before bothering to finish.
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