In the Heart of Life: A Memoir


A Mother Loses Almost Everything Before She Discovers True Joy

In 1977, Kathy Eldon moved with her husband and two children from England to Kenya, where she found freedom as she had never known it before and was ready to push back from her old, restrictive life. Diving into this tumultuous new world as a journalist and writer, she embraced the energy and creativity of Kenyans, both black and white. But her world collapsed when her twenty-two-year-old son, Dan—an artist and ...

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A Mother Loses Almost Everything Before She Discovers True Joy

In 1977, Kathy Eldon moved with her husband and two children from England to Kenya, where she found freedom as she had never known it before and was ready to push back from her old, restrictive life. Diving into this tumultuous new world as a journalist and writer, she embraced the energy and creativity of Kenyans, both black and white. But her world collapsed when her twenty-two-year-old son, Dan—an artist and photojournalist on assignment for Reuters—was stoned to death by an angry mob in Somalia, killed by the very people he was trying to help. Kathy's journey through this tragic loss was deeply spiritual as she discovered that, in many ways, Dan was still ever-present in her life.

This gripping international saga includes a passionate love, a dangerous coup in Kenya, and a compelling glimpse into a woman on the brink of self-discovery. After her son's murder, Kathy began to publish his art, which gained popularity worldwide and—together with her daughter, Amy—launched a global foundation celebrating Dan's work as a creative activist. Throughout Kathy's exploration of profound tragedy, we find the secrets to not only surviving, but being truly, gloriously alive.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Part African travelogue, part journey of an adventurous mother/son team, Eldon writes lyrically and honestly, portraying both the breathtaking landscapes of Kenya and her struggles as a wife and mother amid shattering loss. From an early age, Eldon is fascinated with the continent and sees her dream of moving there fulfilled as a young woman, eagerly jumping from the cornfields of Iowa to Nairobi (via London), where she is captivated by “the clarity of light... and the brilliant colours of the bougainvillea.” However, over the years Eldon confronts a growing dissatisfaction as she fights to find her own identity, a battle that leads to her emergence as a writer as well as the unraveling of her marriage. Her son,Dan, possessed with an enormous heart and tremendous spirit— especially when it came to handling the mix of beauty, danger, and suffering he witnessed daily in Kenya—became a photojournalist documenting profoundly troubled hot spots around the world. When Dan, trying to aid victims of a bomb attack in Somalia, is murdered by an angry mob of survivors, Eldon, struggling with grief, realizes a vision for influencing change. Through speeches, photography exhibits, and a documentary, she brings to light her son’s story and that of other journalists on the front lines in war-torn countries. Although Eldon endures tremendous heartbreak, her recovery is a testament to the ability to heal. (Oct.)
Christiane Amanpour
Kathy Eldon is a powerhouse who has turned her own personal tragedy into a mega blast of creative energy and vision. She believes everyone can be a force for positive change as long as they do what they do with conviction.
Alexandra Fuller
“Kathy Eldon has made something profoundly inspiring out of the unthinkably heartbreaking. A memoir of breathtaking honesty; a mother’s heartsong to her children; an elegy for her wild and inspiring son; a testimony to being fiercely engaged in the world; and a love story to East Africa”.
Pat Mitchell
“Kathy Eldon has written the kind of personal memoir that captures in exquisite, emotionally charged detail a life of adventure, love and loss-and ultimate redemption through creativity and activism. The story of her search for meaning challenges our beliefs and opens our hearts to new possibilities.”
Rosie O'Donnell
“Kathy inspires women to believe that they can do more than simply survive; they can thrive, and passionately create the lives of their choice.”
Maria Bello
“Kathy Eldon’s courage to live in the heart of life inspires all of us to live more soulfully, honestly, and passionately. By following her soul’s longings, she finds herself turning her pain into compassion and her failures into gifts. Her life is the true definition of a ‘hero’s journey.’”
Ricki Lake
“Kathy Eldon’s memoir is raw, honest, and instantly compelling-an amazing adventure of the heart that enlightens the soul. Thank goodness for this book and for the tremendous source of inspiration that is Kathy Eldon.”
Susan Stiffleman
“This book compromised my sleep by keeping me up late at night; it impacted my work by compelling me to put aside things I needed to do so I could ‘just read a few pages.’ Kathy’s story is full of triumph and sorrow, heartbreak, and redemption. A remarkable read.”
Ann Haggart
The extraordinary memoir of a woman’s journey from Iowa to London to Kenya, from all that was safe and predictable to a transformative, dazzling, yet harrowing new life and existence-transforming the depths of pain to the heights of activism.”
Elinor Tatum
“In the Heart of Life is not just a memoir, but a journey of the soul looking for the light. We are taken on a stunning adventure of love, loss, hope, forgiveness, and dreams. A must read for anyone who has ever loved, lost, and still seeks the answers.”
Lyndon Harris
“Kathy Eldon shares an extraordinary tale-at times heartbreaking, at times exuberant. Every twist, every turn, every triumph and tragedy reflects a woman facing life’s most tender, vulnerable, scary moments and saying...YES. Her courage in embracing life inspires me to do the same.”
Larry Kirshbaum
Kathy Eldon’s memoir is truly magnificent. Kathy has truly lived a glass-full life in spite of the terrible setbacks and I can only marvel at her tenacity for finding what is good in tragic circumstances and making all of us try to do better in our own lives.
Kweku Mandela
“Kathy’s extraordinary story has been an inspiration for countless others seeking to fill their lives with purpose. Her ability to find meaning in - and transcend - suffering, and her experiences in America, Europe, and Africa remind us that the strength we look for is already inside each of us.”
Kirkus Reviews
A TV and film producer's memoir of a rich life lived as an American expatriate in Britain and Kenya and of the remarkable relationship she had with her son, photojournalist Dan Eldon. As a child, Iowa native Eldon often dreamed of "flying away and exploring the world." She got her wish not long after graduating from college when she married an English businessman and went to live with him in late-1960s London. But it quickly became evident to her that a life of dull domesticity would not allow her to help other people. All that changed after her husband was transferred to Nairobi in 1977. Eldon embarked on a magnificent adventure in a land that not only captivated her heart but also awakened a deep inner restlessness. She educated herself about Kenya and its people, went on safaris and met extraordinary artists and intellectuals, including several members of the brilliant Leakey family. Eager to be more than just another "bored" wife, she began writing articles about everything from Kenyan food and politics to visiting celebrities like psychic Sylvia Browne, who started Eldon on a lifelong metaphysical quest for truth. She also encouraged her gifted son to express himself through art and, later, photography. Self-enlightenment brought increasing professional recognition and success but ended her marriage and nearly destroyed her. She returned to England, where she found a career mentor in distinguished film producer Geoffrey Dudman. Meanwhile, her son began his brief but brilliant career as a humanitarian and photojournalist. Eerily enough, his tragic death at age 22 fulfilled a psychic prediction that she would find her purpose in finishing the work another had begun. A vibrant, interesting book marred by an overabundance of detail and an overreliance on cosmic signs taken for predestined wonders.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062048622
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/24/2013
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 993,815
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathy Eldon has worked as a teacher, editor, journalist, and film and television producer. Following the death of her son, Dan, she and her daughter, Amy, launched Creative Visions Foundation to support creative activists who, like Dan, use media to inform, inspire, and empower positive change. CVF has incubated more than one hundred and fifty projects and productions on five continents, touching the lives of more than one hundred million people.

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