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Book Review: Resilience by Elizabeth Edwards

I saw the Oprah Segment with Elizabeth Edwards in their home in Chapel Hill about her new book, Resilience, and sat mesmerized throughout the entire thing. Friends had it on their discussion list all through the weekend. I downloaded the book to my Kindle (have I mentioned how much I love my Kindle? Such instant gratification.) and read it Friday night.

I always get off track, and this book review is no exception. Can we first discuss the Edward’s house where Oprah’s interview took place? I thought John Edwards was all about environmental sanity. Before we get to the book, you have to look at their prideful presentation of their 28,000 square foot home on 100 acres for four people? Are you kidding me? 28,000 square feet including a full gymnasium? How much does that cost to heat John and Elizabeth?

“Our generation must be the one that says, ‘we must halt global warming,'” Edwards has said. “If we don’t act now, it will be too late. Our generation must be the one that says ‘yes’ to alternative, renewable fuels and ends forever our dependence on foreign oil. Our generation must be the one that accepts responsibility for conserving natural resources and demands the tools to do it. And our generation must be the one that builds the New Energy Economy. It won’t be easy, but it is time to ask the American people to be patriotic about something other than war.”

Ok, enough. But, I’m so glad he didn’t get the nomination.

I’m a mom, and yesterday was Mother’s Day. I read the book cover to cover, Elizabeth, (or really electronic page to electronic page) and can only ask what is your point? Did you really need to put the kids through this media blitz at this time so you could present a diversionary explosion to cover up a simple fact? John slept (for quite awhile) with another woman and that’s the end of that. The child looks just like him and you look like an ass when you say you have no idea if it’s his and it has no matter to you either way.

Supposedly, 60 percent of men cheat in a marriage. Granted, they aren’t doing it while on the campaign trail in 2008 when privacy isn’t even a word anymore, but that speaks more to the fact that John ain’t as smart as he sometimes appeared (remember that great line he had in one of the debates about Obama and Hillary – why do we always call Obama by his last name and Hillary by her first? – about being caught between the two of them?) Or, he’s more arrogant than most.

Her prose flows. (So does that sentence.) She can put a sentence together and tell a story.  My favorite is when she and her sister were walking to church. Her sister, playing with two dimes in her hand – one her allowance and the other the offering – lost one dime down a drain. She remarked, “Well there goes God’s dime.”

She talks about her feelings about her son’s death and those are amazing. With lines like, “Death doesn’t have the same impact after you have buried a child,” make you think about how something feels that you hope you never experience.

But when it comes to John, she’s all about the other woman. Why do we do that girls? Why do we always look at the other woman instead of the commitment made by our partners and the fact that they clearly didn’t mean it? She talks about how Rielle Hunter (yes, Elizabeth, she has a name) was waiting for John outside the hotel and came on with the line, “You’re so hot.” Please tell me you learned more in law school than to believe such an explanation by John. “He has no idea why he responded?” Please stop insulting my intelligence – and yours.

That said, there are points that she uses in her bid to forgive and move on that make sense in living our own lives. She talks about how John has been many things in their marriage; a great father, an attentive husband, a good provider. She says she doesn’t want to define their entire marriage by this one terible act. (Not sure it was one act, Elizabeth, but we get the point.) She’s right, why must we define those that disappoint us by the worst of what they bring to us rather than the best?

You cannot read this book and not think of Hillary. I did not support Hillary in her bid for the Presidency partly because of the Clinton history of lies and the bodies lying in the puddles created by them. But, I give Hillary kudos for focusing her life on actions in areas that matter to her rather than so much self reflection of the injustices of what happened to her. Both Hillary and Elizabeth are strong, mother figures to their childish, weak husbands whose boy-like charms do so well in politics. The parallel ends there.

I wish that Elizabeth left all of us out of her intimate life as Hillary has done. Elizabeth’s strength is in her brain and her toughness. She did so well when she spoke of poverty and their familial partnership desire to change it. I wish she had left her children some semblance of privacy at this very difficult time. Dying too early can’t be easy, and I try and give her that, but the book really serves to manipulate John into a lifetime of shame and guilt publicly, and you could see by the set in his jaw during his time with Oprah that he is paying his penance like the man he pretends to be but clearly isn’t.

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