By Elizabeth Taylor
2:20 PM AKST, February 17, 2010
Most people get famous for taking a stand, Jenny Sullivan Sanford sat out.
But here she is sitting pretty - she'll switch the tasteful colorful wrap jersey-style dress and change into solid colors for a TV appearance later that day - at the Four Seasons in Chicago. It's a bit of a homecoming for the girl from Winnetka who left for Georgetown, then Wall Street and landed in the South Carolina Governor's mansion.
She could still be there, except that her husband revealed himself for what he was all along - a spineless scoundrel - and then she wrote a book, made the rounds with Larry King, Barbara Walters and the morning shows, and in the final leg of her book tour, in the Midwest.
Jenny Sullivan Sanford may have left Mark Sanford, but she and their four boys will remain in the South, living on Sullivan's Island, near Charleston. (No, her family does not own the island - I asked.) She wrote the book there, relying upon old journals and campaign scrapbooks to recreate her past and working on it while her four sons were at school, taking the phone off the hook to avoid interruption. She also worked with a collaborator. Sanford notes: "She had better writing techniques, but I had the story."
She also learned about the book business, expressing surprise that a photographer would shoot the cover image before her contract with the publisher was signed. She met her deadline and was surprised again when the release date was accelerated. She's also looking at the best-seller list, as my colleague Christopher Borrelli reports.
Between her radio and tv gigs, some highlights of our conversation:
Q: Did attending Woodlands Academy, a school for girls, make you more self-reliant, less dependent on men?
A: Woodlands was the right school for me. It allowed me to grow and mature, gave me great confidence. It was a value-oriented, scholastically challenging environment. It celebrated the individual.
Q: You dedicated your book to your boys - what do you want for them?
A: One thing that kept me and Mark together is shared values. We wanted them to be men of character. One of the biggest challenges for them is how to reconcile how their dad lost sight of those values.
Q: Do you fret when they would read about all this stuff about their dad?
A: There's nothing new, nothing they heard on tv or newspapers! They've lived in a world with press all the time and they've learned not to believe what they've read anyway.
Q: You seem like you're from the Midwest, not the South.
A: I've always been a straight shooter, and frankly Mark was, too. The Mark the world saw was not the Mark I was attracted to. I don't know that being from the Midwest helped me not crumble, but it may be reflected in the fact that I didn't feel subject to societal norms - like when I stood up and put a statement out, which I wouldn't envision Southern women having the strength to do.