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Season of Betrayal
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Season of Betrayal

by Margaret Lowrie Robertson, Chris Sulavik

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Lara McCauley never wanted to go to Beirut. But in 1983, when her husband’s career as a foreign correspondent brings her there in the midst of the civil war, she tries to make the best of it for the sake of her marriage. Unlike the other foreign visitors—most of whom are hard-charging journalists like her husband—Lara



Lara McCauley never wanted to go to Beirut. But in 1983, when her husband’s career as a foreign correspondent brings her there in the midst of the civil war, she tries to make the best of it for the sake of her marriage. Unlike the other foreign visitors—most of whom are hard-charging journalists like her husband—Lara can’t seem to find her footing in the chaotic city. Although she’s relatively insulated from risk, she’s as terrified of the frequent eruptions of violence as she is ashamed of her fear. Bored, lonely, and afraid, Lara defies her increasingly bullying husband by befriending a mysterious Polish journalist and beginning to work part-time as a broadcast film editor. But she is an inexperienced player in a dangerous game. As the U.S. Òmission of presenceÓ in Lebanon rapidly morphs into something far more deadly, Lara unwittingly sets in motion a chain of events with devastating consequences.

Drawing on her years of experience as a foreign correspondent, Margaret Lowrie Robertson brings war-torn Beirut to life in this gripping debut.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher


"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." --The Wall Street Journal

"Season of Betrayal is a captivating journey into war-torn Beirut and the equally dangerous front lines of human relationships. Margaret Lowrie Robertson brings her keen reporter's eye to this evocative and moving story of love, loss, and of course betrayal." —Anderson Cooper

Publishers Weekly
Lara McCauley, hopeful but, as she notes, "no longer naive" at 29, follows her war correspondent husband, Mac, to Beirut in 1983, when fault lines of international terrorism (then in its embryonic stages) ran through the city just as surely as the Green Line that separated Lebanon's warring factions. Lara, curious and loving, has little in common with seasoned journalist Mac, who has revealed himself over the years of their relationship as a selfish, possessive and abusive bully. When Mac begins an affair with his Lebanese translator, Lara finds a friend in another outsider: the mysterious Thomas Warkowski, a freelance journalist who's rumored to be a spy, and thought to be gay. With her marriage unraveling, and the city's mounting body count dismissed internationally as "Beirut-bang-bang," Lara beds Thomas with far-reaching and catastrophic consequences. Setting the story against the backdrop of a society cruelly tearing itself apart (and punctuating it with the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks at Beirut International Airport), debut novelist Robertson draws a powerful story out of Lara's first-person narration. The author solidly dramatizes the ironies and ambiguities, moral and otherwise, of Lara's desperate encounters. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Lara McCauley is trapped in a failed marriage, but can't admit it yet. Her husband, Mac, an international news correspondent, is great company in public, but a bully and a womanizer in private. When Mac is assigned to Beirut in January 1983, Lara goes with him, but they barely settle in before Mac starts another affair. Lara tries but can't adjust to life in the middle of a war zone: she is perpetually terrified. Then, on October 23, 241 Americans and 58 French soldiers are massacred in suicide bombings at the U.S. Marine barracks and the quarters of the French Multi-National Force. Events move to a violent close, leaving Lara both betrayer and betrayed. There are no heroes in this wrenching novel; no one behaves well and everyone's motives are suspect. With years of experience in news broadcasting, including a year in Beirut as a stringer for CBS radio, Robertson writes with authenticity about a city and a people destroyed by civil war. The contrast she draws between the grand scale of the Lebanese civil war and the small scale of Lara's battle to win back Mac is quite effective. An exceptional first novel, gripping and real. Enthusiastically recommended for general collections. David Keymer, Modesto, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A marriage unravels along with the U.S. mission in Lebanon in 1983, in this debut from a former CNN correspondent. Lara McCauley arrives in Beirut in January 1983 with her husband, Mac, the new bureau chief for a major U.S. magazine. Narrator Lara, 29, is still the naive wifey who'll do anything to please, though she suspects Mac may have cheated on her. He's a classic chauvinist pig who humiliates Lara in public and wastes no time starting an affair with Nadia, his Lebanese translator, when he's not drinking with his "tribe," his fellow journalists at the Commodore Hotel. Lara finds a friend in Thomas, the half-Polish, half-Brazilian freelancer who's an old Beirut hand with an unrivaled network of sources. Gentle, erudite Thomas is rumored (correctly) to be gay, but Robertson fails to bring him into focus. Their innocent friendship enrages Mac, who rapes Lara ("forced bonding" is her phrase) while reeking of Nadia's scent. As her situation worsens, so does that of the American mission. The embassy is blown up in April, and the climax will come in October, when 241 Marines are killed at their airport camp. Robertson's historical framework is accurate enough, but she lacks the skills to dovetail Lara's story credibly with Lebanon's byzantine politics and feuding warlords. It doesn't help that Lara makes one dumb mistake after another, first having (or attempting to have) sex with Thomas, then having an indiscreet lunch with him at a mountain hotel, and finally, panicking over Mac's likely reaction, crossing the super-dangerous Green Line on foot, despite Thomas's entreaties. When Thomas disappears, Lara suspects Mac has had him killed, and is overwhelmed with guilt that she may haveunwittingly betrayed him. She takes a spectacular revenge on her husband, Mrs. Mouse becoming Lady Macbeth; but then, as she says, like Reagan back in Washington, she was only doing what she believed to be right. A harebrained melodrama.

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

What People are Saying About This

Season of Betrayal captures the emotional intensity of a young woman's personal struggle in the face of a gruesome civil war. Filled with love, death, and fear, this riveting and dramatic portrayal will emotionally move the hearts and minds of every reader.—Chris Matthews, Host, NBC's The Chris Matthews Show and MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews

Meet the Author

MARGARET LOWRIE ROBERTSON has reported for CBS and CNN from Beirut, Cairo, and the United States. Most recently, she worked as an international correspondent for CNN based in London, where she lives with her husband, CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson.

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