Review: “The Paris Herald” by James Oliver Goldsborough

19486590An account of the people behind the most famous American newspaper in Europe (now the International New York Times). It follows the lives of various men and women as they maneuver Paris during the 1960s, an unstable period in America as well as in Europe. They fall in and out of love, move out of the country and back, and hurt each other and themselves in the process.

I’m a sucker for books about newspapers….but this one was really, really difficult to get through. There were just too many characters introduced, all poorly drawn. Goldsborough tried to take on too many people, which resulted in half-baked story lines.

Most of the book is about American men and women cheating on their spouses, a subject I find very distasteful. It would be one thing if that was the story line of one of the characters…but it dominated the entire book. The few characters I had empathy for in the beginning of the book I lost all feeling for by the end.

The most frustrating thing about this book, though, is how it builds and builds…to a climax that never happens. A wife is cheating on her husband and hears him coming up the stairs, about to open the door on her and her lover – and the next thing we hear about them, they’re divorced. A man is considering moving to Málaga, away from his wife and children – the next we know of him, he’s been living there for an indeterminate amount of time. Literary blue-balling…it’s something I’ve never experienced before, and I don’t like it.

On the back cover of the book the publisher writes that it’s “the best story of Americans in Paris since Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast.” Hardly. That’s not even a very big genre, and I still disagree. Even Sarah’s Key was much better.

If I were Goldsborough, I would have written a good non-fiction account of The Paris Herald during this time period, if he was so interested in it. I might have enjoyed reading that if it were done well. But this historical fiction piece just does not work.

TL;DR: Skip it. That’s all I have to say.

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