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The defining moment of Kati Marton’s life occurred when she was six and the police came for her mother during the Hungarian Revolution. Her mother was imprisoned for a year, joining her father in prison. The authorities forced Marton and her sister to move in with strangers. Before that their lives had been blessed especially by Communist Hungary standards. Kati’s parents had hired a French nanny and she learned to speak French as a child.
If you love Paris or even if you are just curious about life in the famous city, this memoir makes a good read. I wasn’t familiar with Kati Marton’s books or journalism—she worked as a foreign correspondent for ABC news and NPR—so this memoir made a nice introduction to her work.
Marton was one of the first women to be hired as an international corresponded for ABC. She met Peter Jennings in London before beginning her post to German in the 1970s. They fell in love and began an international romance that was mostly centered in Paris. But before that Kati had studied abroad in the city of light during the momentous year of 1968. She came from the States where her parents had emigrated after leaving prison.
Being fluent, Katy did well studying at the Sorbonne and even in the midst of the student uprisings she managed to pass her orals with flying colors as the city erupted in siege around her.
Not only does Kati tell of her relationship and marriage to Jennings but also she records her second marriage to Richard Holbrooke, the UN ambassador who died several years ago. They also met in Paris after Kati had separated from Jennings. Richard was eminently kind and proud to be married to a successful ambitious woman; apparently, Jennings was not. But unfortunately, Holbrooke died and left Katie alone after her children were grown.
So what did Kati do? Return to Paris, of course. And in the period of her grieving, she let the daily life of her favorite city flow around her: the children going to school in their uniforms, the visit to the bakery for the daily baguette, the small cinemas where people left earnestly debating old American films. She also walked the streets each day and discovered buildings or plagues that she'd never seen, many about her Jewish heritage that like the former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, she had not even know about until late in life.
Paris: a Love Story is a wonderful tribute to a great city. If you enjoy the coming of age section, you will certainly enjoy Alice Kaplan's Dreaming in French which describes the formative years of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis.