Words to Live By: Reviewing Alexandra Villard de Borchgrave’s “Love & Wisdom”


“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” These wise words by William Shakespeare are just one of the 37 reflections offered in Alexandra Villard de Borchgrave’s latest book, Love & Wisdom (Giles), out this month. Sometimes, we all need some small tokens of advice to help us through a hard time, or just the daily rigor of life. For de Borchgrave, that time was when her late husband, Arnaud, passed away in 2015.  

“Arnaud was known as a brilliant thinker, and, in searching for a way forward after his death, I found myself drawn to wise sayings of ancient philosophers that were remarkably relevant to our lives today,” she writes in the book’s introduction. One of said philosophers, Pythagoras, even influenced the layout of the book. An extraordinary mathematician, Pythagoras believed in finding power in symbols, especially the number seven. As a homage to him, de Borchgrave divided the book into seven sections: Hope, Beauty, Forgiveness, Love, Kindness, Sorrow, and Wisdom. 

To bring the quotes to life, each page is beautifully illustrated with exquisite artwork. Sixteenth-century art from the Smithsonian Institution’s Freer|Sackler Gallery is juxtaposed with contemporary images drawn in part from the National Geographic Creative (which showcases the work of award-winning cinematographers), depicting the heavens in the form of landscapes, sunsets, and starry skies. 

Combining life affirmations with jewel-like images and gilded-edged pages, Love & Wisdom is a great way to practice self-love, and the perfect gift for someone going through struggle. A renowned photojournalist and author, de Borchgrave quotes Heraclitus, “The sun is new each day,” offering a constant message of hope and perseverance. She writes, “I hope we will use our time on earth wisely, and that our troubled world will focus more on compassion, understanding, and peaceful coexistence, finding new ways to bind humanity together in love and wisdom.”