During my four hour delayed flight home from the Iowa Writing Festival, I was able to finish a bit of reading. I picked up Kati Marton’s Paris: A Love Story at a quaint, Iowa bookstore before my journey home. Marton, who is a renowned author and awarding-winning former NPR and ABC News correspondent, shares her experiences of love, loss, and life in the city of Paris in this candid memoir.
Marton’s memoir is moving, inspirational, and deeply human as she openly discusses her trials and triumphs in the lovely city of Paris. The memoir is a fast read as Marton’s life is romantic, adventurous, thrilling, and traumatic. The reader is taken on an intimate journey through Marton’s life in Paris as a giddy schoolgirl eagerly awaiting to return her roots in Europe as a Parisian scholar, as a rising ABC News foreign correspondent, as an author and wife of an United Nations Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and finally as a widow.
If you are craving to dive into a Parisian life and explore the streets of Paris without actually spending the money to visit the city of love, then this book will satiate your desire. Marton paints a vivid picture of Paris that is so real I feel as if I am sipping on the champagne and devouring the delicious pastries and baguettes with her. The manner in which she describes her adventures through Paris is so active and energetic that it makes the reader believe she or he is actually on the back of motorbike speeding through the narrow streets.
My favorite passage is when Marton is exploring Paris as a study abroad student. She writes,
“The week’s most pleasant afternoon I spent at the château of an impoverished Count and Countess. They make their living entirely off the land and don’t have a car. Or a radio! But their salon is filled with masterpieces, and their land stretches for miles on a promontory overlooking the Lorie. We sat on the grass surrounded by their moutons and horses, eating fruit from their trees and watching the sun set on the Lorie. Really it’s the simplest things in life that are most pleasurable to me-eating an apple in the sunset with sheep and a crumbling old Count and his château.”
What I love most about Marton’s novel is how honest and blunt she is about her past. She does not spend an inordinate amount of time bragging about her accomplishments, the great historical events she covered, or the multiple languages she speaks. Rather, Marton delves deep into her past mistakes, troubles, and sorrows, creating an emotional account of what it means to be a human being. Marton is frank with the reader about her abortion, her divorce, and her affair. She engages on a very person level with the reader and seems to reveal all, without shielding the reader from her times of hardship. She comes alive on the pages not just as an award-winning journalist and brilliant author, but as a real woman who has loved, suffered, and lived.