Like a human snowplow, I surge against the flow of chanting, banner-waving students pouring into the boulevard St.-Germain. I am determined to get to the Café de Flore before Richard does. My husband has flown all night from Kabul on a military plane. I am merely crossing from the fifth into the sixth arrondissement. As he shuttles between Washington, Kabul, and Islamabad, we have little time together; minutes matter. But this is the Latin Quarter, and it is October, the season of student manifestations. Les manifs are a routine feature of my Parisian neighborhood, and I usually enjoy their high-spirited revolutionary theater. Not today. The students have blocked traffic on St.-Germain and prevented Richard’s car from reaching our apartment on the rue des Écoles.
Hot and sweaty, I arrive at the terrace of the Flore. Richard is already there and, as usual these days, he is on the phone. As he is looking up, his smile momentarily lifts travel fatigue from his features. “You’re late!” he says, a hand covering the phone. He hangs up, and we kiss. Then we exhale in unison from sheer relief that we are together—and in Paris! That is how it has been for the past two years. Days stolen from a devouring job.
Richard takes out his frayed wallet to pay for our citrons pressés. “See,” he says, “it’s still here,” a faded Polaroid of the two of us in the Tuileries Garden taken in 1994, wearing matching expressions of goofy happiness. “And I still have this,” he says, proudly extracting the torn corner of a phone message pad with my sister’s Paris telephone number. In 1993, he tracked me down with that number. His amulette. “You are a ridiculously sentimental man,” I tell him.
Holding hands, we navigate between the green street cleaning machines that are already vacuuming up the debris of the street protest, as we make our way to the rue des Écoles. We have one night together. He will fly to Brussels the next day for a conference he has called on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
On this balmy fall afternoon, we are not thinking about that. It always feels right to meet in the city where we began our life together. Paris is also roughly midway between Washington and the world’s bleakest conflict zone, Richard’s diplomatic beat. Climbing the narrow, creaky stairs to our pied-à-terre reminds us of other lives we have lived—and lives we planned still to live. In Paris, we wrap our little apartment around ourselves like a blanket, and keep the world outside, barely leaving our village tucked in the shadow of the Pantheon. Tonight we have to.
I am in Paris not only to see my husband but also to launch the French edition of my new book. My book party at the American Embassy is the next night, and it will be the first such event that Richard will not attend. On this, our only evening together, we are dining with Ambassador Charles Rivkin and his wife, Susan Tolson, the hosts of my book event.
Entering the Left Bank restaurant a few hours later, we smile at the sight of a giant poster of my book cover on the glass front door. Several diners acknowledge Richard’s presence with discreet nods. He and I exchange looks of mutual pleasure and pride.
I recall a lurking feeling that things were going too well for us last year. My new book had the best reviews I ever had and I had been named a National Book Critics Circle finalist. Our children were leading productive lives, Lizzie working for the United Nations in Haiti, Chris writing his first book, Richard’s sons, David and Anthony, grown, with beautiful children of their own. Richard had the toughest assignment of his career, but it was work he loved.
I am not a prayerful person. But I recall praying in mid-2010, Please God, don’t let anything bad happen to us. This is my superstitious Hungarian side, that you are punished if you are too happy. When my late-night fears circled, my first thought was for my children. My husband was indestructible. He would always be there to pick up the pieces.
The distant war reaches out for Richard even during dinner. His phone rings and he leaves the table to talk. His soufflé—the restaurant’s specialty—is cold and flat when he returns. His phone rings again and he answers again. This time I scold him. “You are being rude.” He glowers at me and squeezes my hand hard. “You have no idea what’s going on,” he answers. “There is always something going on,” I protest. The ambassador notes Richard’s grip and shoots his wife a look. My husband catches himself. “Try this.” He offers me a forkful of his freshly remade cheese soufflé. A peace offering. I shake my head. “Oh please, it’s so good,” he coaxes me. I relent and he does not answer the next call.
Walking home from the rue de Sèvres, we stop in front of the beautiful Romanesque church of St.-Germain-des-Prés, which anchors this neighborhood. But his phone rings again and I am left to remember alone when I first learned about Romanesque churches from Richard, seventeen years ago, when we fell in love in this city.
• • •
I get up early the next morning. He appears a few hours later, looking sheepish and like an unkempt boy. “You are so disciplined,” he says, finding me with my nose in a book, taking notes. “I have to be,” I answer. “I am not as quick as you. Come,” I say, patting the couch where I am sprawled. “Let’s read together.” Richard has two books in his briefcase, which have traveled back and forth to Afghanistan with him for months: Rudyard Kipling’s Kim and John le Carré’s Our Kind of Traitor. “No, I’m going to buy you a new outfit for your book party,” he announces.
Both books are still on his nightstand in the rue des Écoles—unfinished.
Shopping in Paris is one of our rituals. It is the only place in the world Richard enjoys shopping. Our closets are full of Parisian purchases spanning the last decade and a half. In a chic Right Bank boutique, I parade several beautiful suits and dresses. Richard looks up from the phone and nods at the velvet suit I am modeling. “That color looks good on you,” he says. “C’est aubergine, monsieur,” the saleslady interjects. Richard has spotted some shoes of the same shade and, still on the phone, signals the lady to bring those, too. I decline the cashmere overcoat, the color of cream, that he drapes on my shoulder. “Let’s get a coffee,” I say, our time together nearly up.
On the rue de Rivoli, we squeeze into a crowded café terrace, Richard looking for shade, me for a sunny spot. “I’m sorry I can’t stay for your book party,” he says. “That’s the end of your perfect attendance record for four books,” I answer. “But you know I came just to be with you,” he says. “It won’t always be like this,” he promises. The black embassy car is at the curb; the driver is holding the door open. We kiss. It is our last time together in Paris.
From the café on the rue de Rivoli it is a short stroll to the W. H. Smith bookstore, where I now head. On the front table I see Bob Woodward’s new book, Obama’s Wars. I buy a copy and head back out into the October sunshine. At the Tuileries Garden, across the street, I pull up a wrought-iron chair and flip to the index. Holbrooke, R.: a great many listings. I turn to the one that also lists me. A wave of anger and disbelief washes over me as I read. According to Woodward, the president soured on Richard when my husband asked him to call him Richard, not Dick, at the ceremony appointing him special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. “For Kati,” Richard explained, “who is in the audience, and who doesn’t like ‘Dick.’”
How could the president—who once requested that his friends not call him “Barry”—hold this against Richard? I am too agitated to sit for another minute in the sunny gardens. Embarrassed that I made such a big deal of my preference for Richard over Dick, a fact I made clear to him the minute we met, in 1985. Angry that such a trivial matter would turn the president against the man he just assigned his toughest foreign policy job. And then, as I head toward the Seine and home, I am overwhelmed by love for a man who would use his precious one-on-one with the commander in chief to ask a favor, for his wife! No wonder he never mentioned the Woodward book, nor brought a copy home. He was trying to protect me—as always. I have an urge to run after the limousine speeding him now to a military base outside Paris—to tell him I love him, one more time.
• • •
Aside from my superstitious fear that things were going too well for us, there were no signs, no portents of tragedy looming. He played tennis over Thanksgiving weekend in Southampton. We did a marathon of movies, his favorite pastime. But if I believed in signs, there was one. As Richard packed to return to Washington on that Sunday, he searched frantically for his wallet. We looked in all the usual places, emptied all pockets in his closet, and moved the bed and chest of drawers. No sign. Oh well, he said, it’ll turn up. It always has.
I returned to New York, Richard to Washington. Every time he called, he asked if his wallet had turned up. There was no money in it. He had already canceled his credit cards and replaced his security passes. Still, he was agitated that it had not turned up, as it always had in the past. Why are you so upset? I finally asked him. “It’s the picture of us in the Tuileries, and your sister’s telephone number,” he said. “I’ve had them since 1994.” The wallet has still not turned up. Like Richard, it disappeared.
He disappeared. That is how it seems to me. I had assumed that death would be a gradual transition, a passage after long illness, and sad, unhurried good-byes. Not a midlife thunderclap.
One and a half hours before his collapse we were making our Christmas plans on the phone. We were finally getting away. I made him laugh when I described an incident in the news about an overzealous Homeland Security agent at LaGuardia, accused of groping by a diplomat we did not particularly like. An international incident was in the making—though compared to the life-and-death issues on which Richard spent every waking hour, a minor one. “Oh, it feels so good to laugh,” Richard said. Just one more week, I said. “Well, don’t bother coming to Washington this weekend,” he said. “I’ll be at the White House for the president’s year-end review. Got to go meet with David Axelrod at the White House, then Hillary at State. Love you.”
Love you, too.
When he called an hour and a half later I barely recognized his voice. “I feel a pain I have never felt,” he said from the ambulance, en route to the George Washington University Hospital emergency room. This voice of deep pain was not one I had ever heard. “I have no feeling in my legs,” he said. There was fear in my husband’s voice. “I am on my way!” I shouted over the siren’s wail. Those were my last words to Richard.
--Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.
Revue de presse
“Like . . . Didion, Joyce Carol Oates. . . . The book, short and intimate, reads like the wind from the urgency of the opening scene." (Susan Cheever Newsweek/The Daily Beast)
“I stayed up last night and read this book cover to cover. I can’t remember the last time I did that. It is wonderful—touching, romantic and honest—and oh, how it made me want to go to Paris!” (Barbara Walters)
"[A] must-read . . . enthralling" (Vogue)
“Kati Marton has lived a thrilling and turbulent life. … She fell in love with and married two famous men. … She has been an eyewitness to history in all its cruelty. … [I]n this memoir … she grapples with an unexpected new stage of life: widowhood. … [A] delicious read by a well-connected author." (The Washington Post)
“Paris provides a backdrop for this absorbing memoir of love and painful loss, played out on the larger stage of world politics….On a first-name basis with the political movers and shakers on a global stage, Marton has observed world politics in the making and makes space for readers on her catbird seat.” (Kirkus Reviews)
"Kati Marton is a writer of great clarity and grace. Paris: A Love Story is a revealing memoir about the contours of her own humanity, rendered with precision and honesty. It is a memorable story of love, loss and landscape that is as expansive as her remarkable life." (Steve Coll, author of Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power)
“A great read—the lightness of love, the drama of war and sudden death—with Paris in the background.” (Diane von Furstenberg)
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
227 internautes sur 235 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Modern Day Benvenuto Cellini16 août 2012
- Publié sur Amazon.com
This is an enjoyable summer read, but I had very definite deja vu to 40 years ago and reading the autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini in college. Both Cellini and Marton are engaging writers, but their almost psychopathic egotism makes for an interesting, if at times, exasperating experience. One of the reasons famous people's biographies are more interesting is because most of us are curious to see behind the curtains of the rich and powerful. For instance, Bill Clinton, versus the neighbor who lives across the street, visits Marton the morning after her third husband dies. However, we never really get a sense of the multitude of celebrities that parade through this book, since generally they are presented as one dimensional figures whose role is to reflect Marton's splendor. The book might have been subtitled "famous people who had the pleasure of meeting me." They fall into good (those who fawn over Marton) and bad (those who express any hesitancy) I must say I never felt as positive about Nancy Reagan as when reading about her cautiousness in allowing herself to be interviewed by Marton. There is even a rather bizarre section where Marton simply posts a number of positive Thank you notes from famous people to her and her husband for their hospitality while he was UN ambassador. They read like your basic BS like pleasantries one puts in a thank you note, but she seems to take them literally. She hints at some deep dark side to her divorced husband Peter jennings, but the only tangible complaint is that he finds her self centered and ambitious, and one can see where he is coming from. Perhaps the strangest part of this memoir, is that it is filled with so many famous people, and yet so devoid of any actual friends. Through all her tribulations, not one close female friend ever appears. One wonders whether she filtered her non-celebrity friends out of the book for their and her privacy, or she simply filtered them out of her life. This is a fine book to read on a plane or at the beach, but it does leave you shaking your head.
119 internautes sur 123 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
A better title would have been...Kati A Love Story16 août 2012
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Does this woman love herself, or what? Her poor husbands! She cheated on Peter and Richard and felt obligated to let them know--what an incredibly self-absorbed woman. She shouldn't have anything nasty to say about Pamela Harriman---she seems to be a PH wannabe. I'm sure she'll be married again shortly. Well, not too much in the book about her love for Paris, but lots about her love for herself. As I said, the title is misleading.
88 internautes sur 91 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Meh23 août 2012
A Reader's Reader
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
While I respect Ms. Marton's pain at the untimely death of her husband (who, it appeared, loved her very much), I have to say, this book was pretty dull. It was almost as if she went through the pages of a diary/datebook and just jotted down extraneous events.
At its base, Ms. Marton does not have much of an ear for dialogue, or for describing a noteworthy person or scene. At one point, she is reduced to sharing thank you notes that famous people sent her after dinner parties. People like Bill Clinton, Clark Clifford, Ted and Vicki Kennedy, Pamela Harriman all pass through her pages, but they are all described with about as much enthusiasm as the milkman. At first, I thought that perhaps this was because she came from television, and not used to writing descriptive, evocative passages? But who knows.
Also -- for those who say she went through a "tumultuous" divorce from her second husband, Peter Jennings, to my reading, it seems as if she and Dick Holbrooke went away for a romantic weekend about a month (or less?) after she separated from Jennings and then he was part of her life full force... they were together (very much so) right away, and then they got married. So it was not as if she was ever a struggling single mom with two kids to raise by herself not knowing what to do with her life. It sort of seems as if she went from one man to the next with no downtime.
Oh, and then she had an affair with some Hungarian guy about 10 years into her marriage with Holbrooke, but he asked her to end it, and she did. (But even that did not sound very exciting.)
I was really looking forward to this book. Read it from cover to cover in about two hours (if that). Holbrooke and Jennings led very interesting lives (as did she by extension, I suppose), but this book does not convey any of it. And as other reviewers have commented on, she does seem very keen on herself.
64 internautes sur 65 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
So disappointing22 août 2012
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I saw Kati Marton on tv last week talking about this book. Hindsight being what it is, I probably should have gone with my gut when I wasn't very impressed with her in the interview. But, the book sounded interesting, so I bought it that day.
From almost the very beginning, I knew I wouldn't like the author or the book. Yet I kept reading. It got to the point where I didn't think I could dislike her any more, and then she said or did something to prove me wrong. I've never in my life encountered someone so self-absorbed. Of course, this book is just a snapshot of who she is, so I'm sure there are some redeeming qualities, but I just don't understand why none of them were shown in this book.
There were also mistakes in the book; there was one picture where she noted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in February 2001 (pretty sure she meant 2011) and then twice she mentioned having a brother, but he was nowhere else in the story; in fact, she referred to "the four of them" (her mother, father, sister and herself).
For someone who has written as much as she has and been a journalist her whole life, I was expecting more. Her style was very odd; seemingly HUGE events in her life - "ten years into our marriage I fell in love with another man" - are presented just like that and then nothing else is said about it. She would end chapters with just random sentences; chronology didn't seem to matter at all.
I would never recommend this book to anyone. I'm sorry for the losses that Kati Marton suffered, but many, many others have been through the same thing... without cheating on two husbands along the way. Also? No mention of Richard's sons in the acknowledgements at the end? Interesting.
29 internautes sur 30 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Some Stories Just Don't Need to Be Told.28 août 2012
Germaine M. Juneau
- Publié sur Amazon.com
This is one of them. Reminded me of the book Eat, Pray and Love. Another story that was written by a woman who was so needy all she did was use people she met along the way. There are so many books by woman that are positive and worth telling the story. Very disappointing.