...riveting page-turner chronicling this sweeping Tolstoyan saga ... A former Time Paris bureau chief, Sancton is perfectly placed to document this extraordinary story and the haute Parisian power milieu in which it is embedded. In gripping but unsensational prose, he brings the debacle alive in its many dimensions, recreating not merely the lurid courtroom drama, but capturing 'the ineffable sadness at its heart ... Judiciously, Sancton doesn't take sides, restricting himself to perceptive observations about the Freudian motivations driving the dramatis personae of this family battle.
Sancton lacks a gift for dish. But he is an excellent straight-up reporter, and he has dug deeply into the many, many elements that complicate this story ... For most of the book, Sancton makes Banier sound like a pure social climber. But suddenly, near the end, he begins to celebrate the man’s protean talents...Sancton’s account leaves Banier in 2016, through with his ordeal and not too much the worse for wear. He was sentenced to four years in prison, but got out of serving any time in a follow-up judgment. He likes fame, though he insists otherwise. This book may give him another shot at it.
This stranger-than-fiction true story has something for just about every reader: lifestyles of the rich and famous, clandestine recordings, suspicious payouts from Swiss bank accounts, even suspected Nazis. For me, the most fascinating element is the palace intrigue — literally. This scandal reached all the way to the Elysée Palace and may be why Nicolas Sarkozy is not president of France. Sancton’s quick work allows this book to appear in almost real time, with the daughter still under investigation and the mother declining into dementia. Sancton doesn’t judge, but presents the facts that make the reader ask the question: Was it worth it?