Friends of Elizabeth Edwards told the Politico that she would be the first to laugh at the notion of “Saint Elizabeth” frequently portrayed in the media.

Those friends also say that Elizabeth’s often witch-like behavior ? portrayed in the new book Game Change ? was reasonable given the stress and grief she faced.

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.

?I would hate to be judged by how I would respond during that time under similar circumstances,? said John Moylan, the campaign?s South Carolina state director. ?Elizabeth is a real person. It?s a mistake to miss that on either end of the spectrum.?

The shattered image of Elizabeth Edwards is one of the most revelatory parts of ?Game Change,? and the passages are among the most difficult to read: Seething through the telephone as she tells a long-time aide he?s dead to her; haranguing her husband in cars, hotel rooms and in an airport parking lot where, incoherent and inconsolable, she tears open her blouse to expose the effects of her cancer and screams, ?Look at me!?

In between those horrors, there were the quieter moments that lay bare a woman?s desperation, such as when she urges aides just weeks before the Iowa caucuses to find evidence ? dates, hotel receipts, anything ? that can support the half-truths and outright lies her husband fed her about his infidelity.