Chapel Hill, N.C. — Last year, by then under criminal indictment, John Edwards sat with a longtime friend in the 10,000-square-foot house that is the centerpiece of his 102-acre Chapel Hill estate. The friend, a New Jersey lawyer named Glenn Bergenfield who had attended law school with Edwards, was one of the select few members of a diminishing club: those whom the disgraced Edwards wanted to see, and those who wanted to see him.
Sometimes Bergenfield just listened. Edwards always talked about his children and often of his late wife, Elizabeth, and, after a while, he usually got around to the matter of Rielle Hunter, the woman with whom he had an affair and a child. These were the characters of the soap opera that Edwards’s life had descended to — the Would-Be President, the Other Woman, the Love Child, the Courageous Wife, the Dying Wife — but here in this large, lonesome house, the conversations were intimate and introspective. Edwards sounded utterly befuddled by what he had done, as if he were talking about a stranger.