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Beautiful Affliction

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  695 ratings  ·  136 reviews
Lene Fogelberg is dying—she is sure of it—but no doctor in Sweden, her home country, believes her. Love stories enfold her, with her husband, her two precious daughters, her enchanting surroundings, but the question she has carried in her heart since childhood—Will I die young?—is threatening all she holds dear, even her sanity. When her young family moves to the US, an an ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 15th 2015 by She Writes Press
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Average rating 4.15  · 
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 ·  695 ratings  ·  136 reviews

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Rita Gardner
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliantly paced, this memoir left me as breathless as if I’d read a thriller about a killer circling its victim. The writing has a spare and clear rhythm. It echoes the writer’s constant struggle to escape the “riddle” that engulfs her very being from childhood to the young wife and mother she has become. When Lene Fogelberg is a child in Sweden, doctors persuade her family there is nothing wrong with her even as every breath she takes is a struggle. This memoir weaves glimpses of that past in ...more
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I want to say that Lene is a very lucky woman that she is alive today to share her story. What an amazing story it is. Lene was born with a heart murmur that left untreated for many years lead to a fatal congenital heart disease. One that left Lene trapped in her body with the heart of a ninety year old woman. I was intrigued by Lene's story because my sister's oldest son had to have heart surgery when he was just a baby. He was born premature at 6 months old. Barely weighing over 2 pounds. He h ...more
Steven Peck
Aug 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fogelberg has crafted a literary and beautifully compelling story about a mysterious 'monster' that is destroying her health and yet defies all medical attempts to find a cause. Once it is cast as a mental issue, no one seems interested in digging any deeper. She knows something is wrong, but no one will believe her. As captivating as this part of the story is, however, it is much more than a medical mystery. It is a heartfelt and touching story about a mother who loves her husband and children ...more
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ok, friends, this is a fantastic read. I havent’ read many memoirs in my life, but if there are more like this, it’s a genre worth exploring more. This book has the language, the emotions, the people, the love story, the problems, the excitement, everything that makes a book completely wonderful. It’s a difficult story though (imagine knowing you are dying and noone listening? Thinking you are crazy? And then being right, all along? And being sooo close...). I usually judge my reading experience ...more
Rossandra White
Aug 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Lene Fogelberg’s Beautiful Affliction is an incredibly rewarding read. At times harrowing, her account of living on the edge of death for most of her life nonetheless resonates with hope and love. Her words have a certain gentleness and grace that buoyed me, and made me feel the wonder of life anew.
Cindy Eastman
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Cindy by: She Writes Press
I was drawn into this book from the beginning. Before I knew the story, Lene Fogelberg’s skillful writing promised to bring me along on her journey with honesty and respect. And what a story it is. It’s about intuition, love, weakness and strength. Family, faith, heritage. And always poetry.

One of the themes that I connected with is that of trusting one’s intuition. Intuition for one’s own health and well-being is often contradicted by those professionals who “know better.” And we learn to trus
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This. Book.

Even long before it existed, I wanted to love it.

Several years ago, my mother-in-law (who knows Lene’s mother) told me about Lene’s move from Sweden to Philadelphia, and how it resulted in her life saving open-heart surgery.

Even back then, Lene’s story gave me chills.

And then several months back, I heard Lene had written a book about her life journey. A fellow writer! A fellow writer, who is also a Swede living abroad!

I had to investigate this girl.

One visit to her blog later, and I k
Kathleen Pooler
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful Affliction is a stunning debut memoir about a young woman whose fatal congenital heart condition is dismissed by the medical community in Sweden. But, it isn’t only the topic that makes this memoir a page-turner. Lene Fogelberg weaves a riveting story of fear of impending death, invalidated for years as she struggles with daily fatigue, dizziness and shortness of breath. She knows something is wrong and often feels she is going insane while putting up a valiant front for her husband an ...more
Sep 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It is hard to believe that English in not Lene's first language. The story is compelling and the prose is poetic. I thought it fitting to read the story with the din of cicadas humming through my neighborhood. I am glad Lene chose to share her story with the world. Maybe in the sharing, she can can help us all silence the whispering monsters in our lives.
Sep 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This memoir contains in it one of the greatest love stories I have encountered, which caused me to hug my husband tighter and rock my daughter longer. Don't misunderstand, this is not brain-candy mushy reading (that personally makes me nauseous). Fogelberg's memoir is real in every way; it broke my heart and mended it at the same time. I cried, I laughed, and now, after reading, I want to share this beautiful work with everyone.
Chelisa Tree
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I don't have the words for how much I loved this book. I couldn't put it down, so be careful when you start it. I'm a little sleep deprived, but it was well worth it. It's beautifully written, honest, thought provoking, poetic and expertly woven together. I'm in awe that this is the author's first book. It left me with a heightened sense of appreciation for the beauty in everyday life as well as gratitude for my own struggles. It has increased my desire and ability to truly see those around me, ...more
Leslie Johansen  Nack
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Lene Fogelberg is a wonder! Not only has she written a beautifully compelling study of the human heart and spirit in Beautiful Affliction, she has written it in English, her second language. Her poetic prose and wispy-like descriptions of the world between the worlds as she struggles to stay alive and breathe after her surgery is just fascinating. The inner world we get to experience as she lays in bed with a ventilator breathing for her is truly magical and mystical. I was brought to tears seve ...more
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Definitely my best read book of 2015. This book, a memoir of a woman's undiagnosed heart ailment and how she survives, is so full of beauty and moments that soar. And then catch your breath. She describes her daughters, and I see my girls. She writes of awakening after surgery, and I feel trapped and airless. She tells about post partum depression, and I am there in that hopeless place. Yet, oddly, it's not bleak. It's beautiful. All of it.

I keep coming back to this book's entry here to see how
Laurie Buchanan
Nov 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
At the very heart of the matter resides a riddle with invisible, yet menacing tentacles whose chokehold is slowly extinguishing the life of Lene Fogelberg. Every tick of the clock a gamble, BEAUTIFUL AFFLICTION directs the reader's focus to what matters—really matters—in their own lives. A gripping page-turner, Fogelberg's suspenseful masterpiece will break your heart with joy.
Liz DiBenedetto
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have never read a memoir before but after reading Lene Fogelberg's story I may just pick some more up.

This memoir was absolutely beautiful. Her story and the way that it was written is amazing. I didn't feel like I was reading a memoir or "biography" type book. It kept me engaged and I would give it 10 stars if it went that high.

I highly recommend this memoir.

Thank you Lene for sharing your story with me!!
Nov 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Touching but not mushy

I was not sure about this story at first. I did not want a depressing book. Boy, was I wrong. The author's writing is descriptive and beautiful. She describes her experiences so the reader feels her suffering, but she is not complaining or asking for the reader's sympathy. Instead we root for her and cheer her on. This was a well written and inspiring book. It was the perfect choice for Thanksgiving weekend. We should all be as grateful for life.
Jenni Ogden
Oct 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
This is one of the most moving memoirs I have read; also one of the most remarkable, both in topic and writing style. Lene Fogelberg is a poetic, honest writer with a strong voice to match her strong spirit. It is frightening how neglected her medical care was in Sweden; almost unbelievable that she could go all the way into adulthood and through pregnancy without a proper assessment of her heart murmur. Clearly if circumstances hadn’t sent her husband and their family to the US, Lene would not ...more
Debi Lantzer
Sep 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I started this book because I chose not to read the back cover of the book or any other written information on the book. I wasn't even sure which "class" it fell under for my #FRC2015 challenge.

The author, Lene Fogelberg has crafted a literary and beautifully compelling story about a mysterious 'monster' that is destroying her health and yet defies all medical attempts to find a cause. I had no idea about the health care in Sweden and the unavailability o
Aug 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Original review at

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

4.75 Stars

♦ Oh you guys! This, this is the memoir I have been wanting to read. Beautiful Affliction is so powerful and fluid, this could easily stand as a fiction novel, but the fact that it is a true tale makes it just so much more. When a three line email transcribed in a book makes you tear up, you know you h
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What an incredible book! The poetically described narrative of a Swedish woman with a grossly abnormal heart, who never has her affliction diagnosed in Sweden, but then moves to the United States and learns from a cardiologist at age 31 that she has about 10 percent use of what Woody Allen might describe as her third-favorite organ. This deficiency has caused her to be exhausted her entire life and dismissed by teachers and even her parents as an unusually lazy child, whereas actually she was a ...more
Mary Latela
Sep 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I joined SheWrites and immediately brushed shoulders with Lene Fogelberg, author of the rich emotion symphony called Beautiful Affliction. I understand the old tradition, for women, of knowing you are ill, but if the docs can't find a diagnosis, they tell you it's hypochondria. It is frustrating to read about Lene's struggle - understanding she is not well, but unable to get anyone to investigate what turns out to be a life-threatening heart problem.

Lene's prose is like silk, swirling back and f
Marian Sofferin
Nov 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I had to stop reading this at 75% completed since I related to it on a very personal level. I related to the author so closely with her experience of long term illness that I started feeling anxiety. When she entered the hospital for open heart surgery I had to stop. I rated this a 5 since her writing was very realistic.
Aug 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Intimate. Provoking. Inspiring. Lene's unique writing style was the ideal way to convey such a moving life story. The manner in which she recounted her fears, her afflictions, her loves and her miracles has led me to lasting self-reflection.
Robin Flanigan
Oct 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
We know, of course, that Lene Fogelberg pulls through. That’s not the point.

The point is that in her memoir Beautiful Affliction, we journey with her through the nearly constant, terrifying, painful symptoms that follow her from her native Sweden to the United States, where she ultimately discovers she is in the last stages of a fatal congenital heart disease.

With exceptional detail, Fogelberg brings readers into her head as she struggles to breathe, to raise her two daughters without letting
Ashley Warner
Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Beautiful Affliction offers a compelling account of Fogelberg’s daily physical challenges with debilitating heart disease and the haunting isolation suffered as her deadly symptoms are repeatedly dismissed. At last, a dramatic series of events will have even the most doubtful believing in miracles, and we will all be reminded of the sustaining power of love.
Sep 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There are so many little bits of beauty and wisdom that are expressed through this book. Wisdom that really can only come to those who have struggled. I wanted to mark so many thoughts that struck me but I ran out of stickies.
Stephanie Scarbrough
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book came at just the right time for me. Enduring a beautiful affliction all mine own, I felt like Lene and I traveled together. I am so happy that she will be healthy, even though I will not. Wonderful story, much like a lovely song of life.
Sep 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful book. It is well written and heartbreaking and at the same time it is a brilliant reminder about how precious life is. Everyone should read this book.
Linda Caddick
Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Lene's amazing ability to closely describe her experience has you living inside her skin, feeling the erratic beating of her heart, and breathing her laboured breaths as you share her harrowing journey through life with an undiagnosed health problem. Repeatedly told she was normal, how could she know that her terrible exhaustion was not laziness or an inability to cope with things others found easy? Yet through it all, she clings to beauty and love with a sensitivity born out of pain, and remind ...more
Mandy Smith
Dec 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful Affliction is a page-turner. I've never read a book where I experienced the feeling of what it's like to be dying in such a visceral way. Writing a book in first person is risky and Lene Fogelberg pulls it off flawlessly. The images and metaphors still have me thinking about what she went through for decades of her life, about the symptoms that made her know she ways dying, yet no one in the medical profession believed her. The incredible love and devotion of her husband, and her love ...more
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Lene Fogelberg is a Swedish global citizen, a Wall Street Journal bestselling and award-winning author and a double open-heart surgery survivor.

Growing up in a small town on the Swedish west coast, Lene Fogelberg developed a love of poetry and reading, nurtured by the rural surroundings of her childhood. She went on to study languages and creative writing at the University of Gothenburg and the St

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