BOOK REVIEW: ‘Paris: A Love Story’

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“Wilt thou be mine as I am thine,

“With or without this rhyme.”

Six weeks after their wedding in her birthplace, Budapest, Holbrooke assumed the role of bull-dogging peace negotiator in the Balkans and was catapulted onto the world stage. From then on they met mostly in Paris, acquired an apartment there and led lives among the uberswells in the superfast lane.

Robert De Niro, Barbara Walters, Ted Kennedy and George Soros were among the socially correct who gathered around their picture-perfect dinner table during Holbrooke’s assignment as U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

Placement was the key to success. “Richard and I would sprawl on our bed [in their majestic suite at the Waldorf Astoria] with seating plans moving names around a large board like a pair of generals planning a battle, even as the first guests arrived. We liked unexpected combinations.”

But after 10 years of wining and dining, along with high drama, the fairy tale frayed, and once again, Ms. Marton tells us, she strayed. This time into the arms of a tall handsome Hungarian while she was researching a book in Budapest. (He, too, remains anonymous.) She was swept off her feet.

She confessed all to her husband, whom she calls her “best friend,” while they were sitting on the grass in front of their Bridgehampton home. They both wept and ultimately patched things up.

Holbrooke’s sudden death from an aortic tear when back in Washington from his post in Afghanistan left her shattered. This memoir and her return to her old Paris haunts are part of the healing process.

In Part 1 of her book she quotes Joseph Brodsky: “If there is any substitute for love it is memory. To memorize, then, is to restore intimacy.”

Kati Marton has done that.

• Sandra McElwaine is a Washington correspondent for Newsweek Daily Beast.

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