Paris A Love Story is the memoir of journalist Kati Marton. She intertwines her love for Paris while describing her marriages first to Peter Jennings and then Richard Holbrooke. Marton’s memoir seems honest and she includes sensitive, personal information about herself and both of her husbands – sharing the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly so the reader can understand their relationships. Like Kevin Newman, in All Out, she worked in the high pressure field of journalism which had a large impact on her relationships.
Marton was the child of Hungarian refugees who fled the Hungarian Revolution after being jailed in their country for their work as journalists. Marton and her sister were forced to grow up when they had to live with strangers until her parents were released and the family left for the United States. She finished university and also became a journalist reporting from abroad and meeting her first husband, Peter Jennings in Paris.
Despite misgivings from their network, Kati and Peter fell in love and spent every moment that they could together, challenged by their distant assignments which seemed designed to keep them apart. Their relationship was described as tempestuous with Jennings struggling without a partner at home, having a wife who was ambitious to further her own career. The couple married and had two children before they divorced after 15 years. Marton left with Jennings described as the vulnerable spouse, trying desparately to keep the marriage intact.
After the separation, Marton spent time with an old friend, Richard Holbrooke. He confessed that he had been in love with her and had been waiting for an opportunity to have a relationship with her. The two were well matched. He was a skilled negotiator who kept their relationship calm. He kept very busy in his ambassador role working to negotiate peace and relationships in very difficult situations gaining the respect from Presidents and other world leaders. The couple spoke every day even when they were not together. Marton shared one unfortunate mistake during their marriage (and I am still scratching my head about this transgression). While I give her credit for openly sharing that piece of their history I did lose some respect for her but then we all learn from our mistakes. Holbrooke was described as graciously accepting this slip and moving forward in their marriage.
Both Jennings and Holbrooke died too soon. Jennings succumbed to lung cancer following years of smoking 2 packs a day. Marton still kept in touch with Jennings and had a role in supporting her children after the death of their father. Holbrooke died as the result of a sudden and catastrophic aneurysm leaving her a young widow, reeling and needing to reinvent her life which included the sale of their home and movie to Paris.
In both her relationships and her new single experience, Paris played a central role. She fell in love in the city and had decades of memories of her experiences in Paris with both of her husbands. Paris felt like home to Marton and she ended up building new traditions including spending each Christmas in Paris with her family as she bravely attended numerous events and tributes to her late husband.
I did enjoy her memoir. It is interesting to read about those who share the news, putting themselves at risk and working ridiculous hours to chase a story. In both this memoir and All Out (Kevin Newman), the reader can understand the dedication that journalism requires and the impact that this has on the families.