Ms. Robertson presents a convincing view of war reporters' lives, an authenticity obviously informed by personal experience. The author is married to CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson and was herself an international correspondent in CNN's London bureau for nearly a decade.
Though she is working in fiction, Ms. Robertson writes with a crisp, clear, tough voice reminiscent of Joan Didion's journalism. Her portrait of Beirut -- at once vivid and meticulous -- displays a reporter's gift for detail. In the no-go zone called the Green Line, she writes, "plants and trees grew in the honeycombed wreckage on either side of the street, gutted by shells and gunfire, startlingly verdant." When Lara and Mac visit the home of a Beirut native, Lara realizes that they're sitting on chairs "over-upholstered in crimson plush ... so obviously new, I suspected they were purchased with this very evening in mind."
For all that, the novel does have its flaws. Chief among these is Ms. Robertson's interruptions of the story with tedious historical passages intended to illuminate the history of the Lebanese civil war. Had she found a way to weave such exposition gracefully into the story, this would have been an even more impressive debut. -- The Wall Street Journal (Weekend Edition, October 21-22)
There's an old literary bromide that says you can't pile enough problems onto your protagonist--the tougher things are, the better. As Margaret Lowrie Robertson makes her transition from CNN international correspondent to novelist in Season of Betrayal, we can be sure of one thing: She paid attention to that piece of advice.
Consider the plight of Robertson's lead character, Lara McCauley. It is 1983 in Beirut. Ravaged by civil war, this chaotically dangerous region has witnessed enough violence and sadness to shock even veteran correspondents. Lara has come to Beirut to join her husband, Mac, a globe-trotting journalist and danger junkie--one of the "good old boys" among his colleagues at the hotel bar. But as a husband, he's boorish and downright cruel--a man not shy about humiliating Lara in public or getting abusive with her in private.
Problems? Lara's just getting started. She meets the enigmatic Thomas, the son of a Polish engineer father and a Brazilian poet mother. Thomas is fluent in many languages and possesses a deep understanding of Middle Eastern culture. And he treats Lara with the attention and respect she's missing from Mac. The relationship begins as a friendship, but innuendo and cultural misperception can quickly morph into reality.
Season of Betrayal provides enough dramatic tension in the Lara-Mac-Thomas triad to satisfy most readers, but Robertson's singular accomplishment is weaving fact with fiction. The novel manages to be entertaining as well as enlightening, and helps the reader hack through the web of cultures and beliefs that make up the complex tapestry of the Middle East.
Which brings us to yet another literary chestnut that says fiction can be more instructive than facts. Season of Betrayal reinforces that notion while managing to supply readers with enough twists and turns to keep them rapidly turning the pages.
Michael Lee is literary editor of The Cape Cod Voice and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. -- BookPage
I found this book hard to put down when I read it a couple of years ago. In fact, I feel like reading it again. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Safika Erselcuk
First off I give 5*s if I'm able to finish the book,compliments to Amazon for their suggestions.This book-kind of feminist journey where oppressed female finds herself and makes... Read morePublished 7 months ago by andironcounty
...and you're supposed to, what can you like. Granted this story unfolds within the context of our main couples' life but what a bad choice that was for openers. Read morePublished 12 months ago by acg
A rare masterpiece. While learning a lot about the Lebanese war 1983, one is confronted in brutal honesty with the unfathomable depth of the human ego, its resulting emotions and... Read morePublished 13 months ago by izea
Season of Betrayal is narrated by Larissa "Lara" McCauley looking back twenty years earlier to 1983 when she and her journalist husband (Mac) lived in Beirut. Read morePublished on May 20, 2009 by M. E. Wood
Set in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983, this is the story of the wife of an American journalist covering the "military presence" in the country just as the fighting among middle eastern... Read morePublished on March 17, 2008 by J. L. Rubenking