“She’d be the first to tell you she’s opinionated, blunt, and difficult,” said Jennifer Palmieri, a confidant of Edwards who served as spokesman for John Edwards’s presidential campaign.

“No one would laugh more than her at the notion of ‘St. Elizabeth.’”

But what bothers Palmieri and other former aides who worked in John Edwards’s campaign is that the portrayal of Elizabeth Edwards by Halperin and Heilemann glosses over the excruciating personal issues she faced while in the fierce glare of a race for president.

During the campaign and its aftermath, Edwards learned that she has incurable cancer, while confronting the reality of an unfaithful and lying husband, a broken marriage, and a child borne by her husband’s mistress. The string of psychological blows was so enormous it wasn’t until just recently that Edwards could finally absorb and accept them all, according to these friends.