Entertainment Weekly


Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


Book Review: 'Legwork: An Inspiring Journey Through a Chronic Illness'

Posted on

It would be impossible not to be deeply moved by the plight of Ellen Burstein MacFarlane. A former TV consumer reporter, MacFarlane suffers from multiple sclerosis and is confined to a wheelchair. In 1991, desperate to find a cure for her illness, she contacted a doctor she’d read about in a magazine, agreed to his fee of $100,000, and came to believe he was little more than a charlatan. (A lawsuit is still pending.) Legwork is a painfully candid biography of a high-spirited woman from a high-powered, wealthy family. MacFarlane, whose mother is a retired New York State Supreme Court justice and whose older sister is a state attorney general nominee, chronicles her relationship with her late father, from whom she was emotionally estranged; her failed marriage; and her battles with clinical depression. Clearly, writing this book with her twin sister, Patricia Burstein, was therapeutic. But MacFarlane’s crisp prose and straightforward presentation of her illness manage to avoid self-pity. Legwork will cheer anyone who has ever been told she can’t do something-and then inspire her to go on and do it anyway. A-