Published by Anchor on Jan 4, 2011
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Format: Paperback from Purchased
Find the book: Amazon, Goodreads
Set against the gorgeous backdrop of Rome, Tom Rachman's wry, vibrant debut follows the topsy-turvy private lives of the reporters, editors, and executives of an international English language newspaper as they struggle to keep it - and themselves - afloat.
Fifty years and many changes have ensued since the paper was founded by an enigmatic millionaire, and now, amid the stained carpeting and dingy office furniture, the staff's personal dramas seem far more important than the daily headlines. Kathleen, the imperious editor in chief, is smarting from a betrayal in her open marriage; Arthur, the lazy obituary writer, is transformed by a personal tragedy; Abby, the embattled financial officer, discovers that her job cuts and her love life are intertwined in a most unexpected way. Out in the field, a veteran Paris freelancer goes to desperate lengths for his next byline, while the new Cairo stringer is mercilessly manipulated by an outrageous war correspondent with an outsize ego. And in the shadows is the isolated young publisher who pays more attention to his prized basset hound, Schopenhauer, than to the fate of his family's quirky newspaper.
As the era of print news gives way to the Internet age and this imperfect crew stumbles toward an uncertain future, the paper's rich history is revealed, including the surprising truth about its founder's intentions.
This felt like it took a really long time to read. It was almost too literary feeling for me, but gave the right amount of random insight into people’s lives to keep me reading. It satisfied my inner nosy neighbour, although the overall feel of the story was almost pretentious.
Each chapter gave a slice of life insight into someone connected to The Paper, with the occasional interlude reflecting back on the founder’s life. It took a few chapters for me to grasp the connections between the characters, as it was not apparent at first. Once I understood the flow of the book, it got easier to follow, but I did feel like only getting a single glimpse at each narrator was not enough. I would just be getting into their life when the narrator changed. It left the book feeling a bit disjointed.
I think I would have like the book more if there were fewer narrators. If the chapters flipped between a few lives, instead of all the lives, I might have connected more with the story. As it was, I took my little glimpses at the various lives, but didn’t really connect with anyone in particular.
Overall, it was an interesting peek at people’s lives, some ordinary and some extraordinary, but that was all it was, just peeks. This book didn’t quite feel like a full story, and so I didn’t really love it, or even like it a lot. It felt me rather disappointed, although my inner nosy neighbour was satisfied.