He is unbearable, vain, proud, brutal, inconsistent, human.
Without him, I would have rotted to death. Abdel looked after me without fail, like I was an infant.
Attentive to the smallest detail, present during all my absences, he delivered me when I was a prisoner, protected me when I was weak.
He made me laugh when I cried. He is my guardian devil.' As the descendent of two prominent, wealthy French families and Director of Pommery Champagnes, Philippe Pozzo di Borgo was not in the habit of asking for help.
Then, in 1993, right on the heels of his beloved wife's diagnosis of a terminal illness, a paragliding accident left him a quadriplegic.
He was 42 years old and unable to do anything - even feed himself - without help.
Hidden behind the high walls of his Paris townhouse, Philippe found himself the modern equivalent of an 'untouchable' -- his total paralysis rendered him unable to reach out to others, and seemed to make others afraid to touch or acknowledge him.
For the first time, he learned what it felt like to be marginalised. The only person who wasn't bothered by Philippe's condition was someone who had been an outsider his entire life - Abdel, the unemployed Algerian immigrant from the outskirts of society who would become Philippe's unlikely caretaker.
In between dramas and jokes, he sustained Philippe's life for the next ten years.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 272 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
- Publication Date: 13/09/2012
- Category: Memoirs
- ISBN: 9781471110481
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Review by JFHilborne
A Second Wind is the true story of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, paralyzed at the age of 42 in a paragliding accident, and looked after by his carer, Abdel. The book begins a memory of the accident and the loss of the author's wife, Beatrice.Much of the story focuses on loss - of his wife and the use of his body, and on di Borgo's sexual longing for women. Elements of humor are woven into the book, although the overall sense of the story is that of the author's internal pain. It is well-written, with beautiful word structure in places, though not an uplifting read.A lot of the book focuses on di Borgo's earlier life, before the accident, and his family lineage. The relationship between di Borgo and his carer, Abdel, was not as well developed in the book as in the movie, which left it somewhat dry to read. The book is quite possibly more true to life than the movie - which has likely been adapted to entertain a cinema audience - and therefore it is harder to connect with the author and his emotions.A well-written account of di Borgo's life, though it failed to create an emotional reaction in me as a reader.