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Necessary Sins Paperback – January 29, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
In this uninspired memoir, journalist Darling comes of age in the 1960s, begins her career at the Washington Post, falls in love with an older Post reporter, gets him to leave his wife and marry her, gives birth to a daughter, suffers heartbreak at her husband's premature death and winds up a successful magazine freelancer. Much time is spent mulling over her identity as a woman and as a writer, worrying about her career prospects and fretting over responsibilities to her fellow women. It all rings familiar and a little self-indulgent, so that by the time she's facing multiple crises in the book's latter chapters, it's hard to muster sympathy. Darling is at her best when describing rarified social environments, such as the Post newsroom, buzzing with deadline panic and office politics; her husband's gatherings with the New York literati; and the contrasting scene populated by her magazine friends. While at times interesting and certainly heart-wrenching, Darling's story isn't unique, and she's unable to make up for it in voice or approach. Prone to simple, at times melodramatic reflection ("When you are young, you want to fly into the future; only time can teach you respect for the knives that are hidden there"), Darling doesn't have the finesse to turn her life-in-media misadventures into a relevant, worthwhile read.
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Journalist Darling opens an achingly honest window onto her life, from her wild college years in the 1960s to her coveted job at the Washington Post, her affair with and eventual marriage to political correspondent Lee Lescaze, and their shared struggle with his cancer 10 years later. "A twenty-three-year-old with a one-paragraph resume" when she starts at the Post, Darling soon lands a plum job in the Style section--"a writhing pit of scandalously indulged show-offs and neurotics." When she falls in love with the older, richer, and married Lescaze, Darling is forced to confront "the pain [she] was willing to inflict." After their affair surfaces, Darling is demoted, and Lescaze is fired. The second half of Darling's chronicle revolves around her efforts at bonding with Lescaze's three children, the birth of their daughter Zoe, and his battle with cancer five years later. Deftly and poignantly written, Darling's story provides an insightful and emotionally rewarding read. Deborah Donovan
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