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Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities Hardcover – May 8, 2009
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“Short but surprisingly deep…It's a small book but a powerful one. And when you finish it you have not just a deeper understanding of Elizabeth Edwards but also a better appreciation for the strength of will it can take to survive.” –Los Angeles Times
About the Author
ELIZABETH EDWARDS is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Saving Graces. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with her two youngest children and husband, John.
Top customer reviews
The breakthrough was my finding a drug side-effect that had been stanching her appetite among her dozen drugs. Now she's eating full meals and slowly regaining strength. Don't trust the "experts" to know what they are doing.
Mom says I had won her trust. Priceless.
The one thing that made me wrinkle my brow was that Elizabeth felt diminished by what her husband did. I don't think she should. Women often try to be all things to all people, and that is humanly impossible.
Regarding the chapter on Toshiko...who put on a resolute face despite her physical and emotional scars from the first atomic bomb. Geishas are trained to not show negative or strong emotion because that leads to wrinkles, which limits one's career. Emotional botox.
It is a pleasure reading Edwards for her wisdom and thought processes. My lessons from this book...keep a steady hand on the tiller and don't give up...do the hard work of working through adversity.
Ms. Edwards writes, with all the passion and sorrow that only a parent who has lost a child can, of the death of her beloved son Wade at sixteen-- surely Euripides is right when he says that it is unnatural for a parent to bury a child in his magnificent play "The Trojan Women," one of Rose Kennedy's favorite pieces of literature, as I recall, for obvious reasons. Ms. Edwards also discusses in detail the recurrence of her cancer that has now been diagnosed as incurable, and finally there is the revelation of her husband's extra-marital affair. You have to admire Ms. Edwards tremendously for refusing to ever give the woman a name.
Far too much has been made of Mr. Edwards' infidelity by both the television and print media when the author gave interviews upon the publication of RESILIENCE. From the coverage, you would assume that that is pretty much what this book is about-- the reason I had sworn off reading it. Nothing could be further from the truth. And while I suppose that Edwards' fall from grace would have to be news since he had ambitions of being president-- one has to question his fitness for such a high office when he seems to have fathered a child out of wedlock (such a quaint term in these times) and apparently had no worries about unprotected sex-- but I for one hope we have heard the last about such reprehensible behavior on Edwards' part so that this woman can concentrate on fighting for her life without the constant coverage of the subject from the media.
Portions of this small volume-- around 200 pages-- are almost too painful to read. For example, Ms. Edwards' account of visiting her beloved son's grave daily for days and months (?) on end and reading to him the books that he would have been required to read before heading off to college may be the saddest thing I have read in years. In the chapter entitled "Eternity" I was not surprised to learn that Ms. Edwards did not find the solace she sought in her faith alone. "The problem of how to view death was the biggest cloud that stood between me and my faith." Or in the words of James Russell Lowell whom she quotes: "But not all the preaching since Adam/Has made Death other than Death." She concludes that "I have to accept that I cannot expect intervention now. I do not pray for my health. God gave me this world, and He gave me free will. It is my world, and now, if I am able, I have to fix it."
Elizabeth Edwards draws strength from the example of her father who suffered a stroke in April, 1990-- the family members were told by a physician whom Ms. Edwards had never seen before and whom she summarily banned from her father's hospital room-- that he was brain dead and would never walk again-- but who lived for 18 more years and talked again, drove a car again, danced again, went whale-watching in Alaska and traveled to both Poland and Spain. Is there any wonder that this woman has resilience? She also has her children, her extended internet family that she discussed in length in her previous book SAVING GRACES, the knowledge that she was able to forgive her husband-- although he will have to earn her trust again-- and a new venture: she is now the owner of a small furniture store in Chapel Hill. As she says so poignantly, the storm, so awful as it has been, has not blown her away; but she has had to adjust her sails.
RESILIENCE certainly rises above a personal journal and can be read as a manual on how to live with adversity. No less a cynic than Christopher Hitchens in the September issue of the "Atlantic" magazine wrote the most positive review of Ms. Edwards' book-- something I thought he was incapable of-- that I have ever read by him. His very fine review convinced me to read the book.