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The Uses of Adversity

Length: 219 pages3 hours


This is the story of my mother, who, in 1939, discovered her husband was suffering from tertiary syphilis – an affliction which could be cured then only by long years of treatment. The horror with which syphilis was surrounded was similar to that provoked by HIV/AIDS in the 1980s. My mother was childless at this time. Instead of being destroyed by this news, she resolved to have children anyway with a man she would choose. Her decision resulted in the birth of twins – my brother, who died ten years ago, and myself. This book is about the courage of a determined woman, and the consequences, for her and her children, of her will to survive.

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