Memoir Mondays: Paris: A Love Story

I should probably be embarrassed to admit this (the excuse I’m going with is I’m but a naïve intern):

I had no idea who Kati Marton was before I picked up a copy of her latest book, Paris: A Love Story. That being said, it surprised me how genuinely moved I was by her fascinating memoir, to the point that I teared up next to a complete stranger while reading it on the bus ride home–and that almost never happens (books choking me up, not the crying next to strangers… unfortunately).

Marton, first of all, is amazing. She fought hard to become an internationally respected foreign news correspondent with ABC back in the 1970s when the term “sexual harassment” had not yet been coined; she eventually became bureau chief and went on to receive a Peabody Award. If you don’t live under a rock (like I apparently do), you might also recognize her name from previous bestselling titles, which include, Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our History and The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World). And if that wasn’t impressive enough, Marton is also a director on the Committee to Protect Journalists, and she serves on the board of directors of the International Rescue Committee, Human Rights Watch, the New America Foundation, and the Central European University. Oh and she’s also a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, P.E.N. International, and the Authors Guild. No big deal.

Some of Marton’s achievements are mentioned in the memoir, but most aren’t. Instead,  Paris: A Love Story is an unexpectedly honest portrait of the few men that Kati has loved and lost throughout her life, set in the city where it all unfolded: Paris, the most naturally romantic setting a person could ask for. The story begins with Kati describing her reason for writing the memoir in the first place: the man with whom she has finally found enduring love and happiness, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, has suddenly passed away. Paris: A Love Story is then the story of how she found Richard, why their relationship was so special, and how very much she’ll miss him.

This is a book for anyone who knows what it’s like to have loved and lost, be it with a partner or family or friends. It is also for anyone who has fallen in love with Paris, the city where Richard tells Kati she is most herself. Paris plays a constant and defining role in Kati’s life, beginning with her studies as a student in 1968, when France was in revolt, and then reappears ten years later, as the setting for her big career break as ABC bureau chief. Paris is also the city where she first falls passionately in love with none other than Peter Jennings, to whom she was married for 15 years. It was again in Paris, years later and after much heartbreak, that she and Richard discover and build the kind of relationship that I can only hope to experience myself one day. Finally, it is Paris that Kati returns to in the wake of Richard’s death. Her story is utterly and heartbreakingly romantic, in addition to being a compelling backstage remembrance of some of the most important historical events since the 1960s. The names of the people that populate Kati’s life are ones even I could recognize, some of which include Nelson Mandala, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Barbara Walters, President Obama, and Harrison Ford (just to name a few). Yet the most important character in this book is perhaps the city of Paris itself: Marton’s memoir is most definitely a love letter to her late husband Richard, but it is defined and inspired by the most romantic city in the world. I honestly can’t recommend this book enough.

Kati in Paris, 1978.

Learn more about the book.
Meet Kati in Toronto on October 4.
Watch Kati discuss Paris: A Love Story.
Like Kati Marton on Facebook.
Photos from Kati’s release party.