Washington Post columnist David Ignatius is one of the most highly regarded writers in the capital, an influential journalist and acclaimed novelist with a keen eye for the subtleties of power and politics. In The Sun King, Ignatius has written a love story for our time, a spellbinding portrait of the collision of ambition and sexual desire.Sandy Galvin is a billionaire with a rare talent for taking risks and making people happy. Galvin arrives in a Washington suffering under a cloud of righteous misery and proceeds to turn the place upside down.
Washington Post columnist and accomplished spy novelist Ignatius (A Firing Offense) here largely abandons the mechanics of espionage and sets a character study of ambition and intrigue against the workings of a great Washington paper. The Washington Sun and Tribune, is, like the Post, a serious, family-owned business. David Cantor, the novel's cynical narrator, is the editor of Reveal, a debt-ridden society magazine at the other end of the spectrum. Providentially for Cantor, a feature he writes on mysterious new D.C. billionaire Sandy Galvin gives him a new lease on life. Galvin is intent on buying the Sun, and in exchange for some inside information, he promises to make Cantor his lifestyle editor. Cantor and Galvin are both Harvard men, though Galvin never graduated, and their business relationship becomes a friendship shot through with a shared sense of nostalgia and unrealized ambitions. All goes according to plan: Galvin panics the Sun's owners into selling to him, then shakes the place out of its stodgy slumbers with bingo contests and a cable-TV station hook-up. Cantor eventually realizes, however, that Galvin's real aim is to win back his one-time Harvard girlfriend, gorgeous Candace Ridgway, the paper's patrician foreign editor, a woman left with a "cold heart" after the Vietnam-era suicide of her father, then deputy secretary of defense. As Galvin's rise leads to his inevitable fall, Cantor watches from the sidelines, playing Nick Carraway to Galvin's Gatsby. A thoroughly involving narrative with a sharp, satiric edge, Ignatius's contemporary take on the tragic confluence of love, power and ambition is a sophisticated look at the media mystique and the movers and shakers in our nation's capitol. His stylish, fluent prose, anchored with fine atmospheric detail, gives the story texture and momentum. Agent, Raphael Sagalyn. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 1998
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Excerpt from The Sun King by David Ignatius
I OWE MY INTRODUCTION TO SANDY GALVIN TO the one essential, irreducible requirement of being a magazine editor, which is that you have to fill the white space. Our features editor, Annabelle Paige, had quit she called it a "resignation in protest," as if she were an aggrieved member of the President's Cabinet because I had changed a picture caption she had written. The picture was of a woman in her sixties who was trying to defy age and gravity in a low-cut ball gown. Our features editor had written, "The always charming Mrs. Robert P. Edgerly trips the life fantastic at the Ambassador's Ball." I had crossed that out and written, "Barbie's mom? No, it's Mrs. Robert P. Edgerly at the Ambassador's Ball."
Nothing too mean about that. Some women might actually take it as a compliment. And besides, Annabelle Paige hadn't even gotten the clich right. She was accident prone, our features editor a blond former airline stewardess with a pert suburban accent that never quite concealed the awful truth that she was really from New Zealand. When she saw the change on the bluelines, she threw a three-alarm tantrum. She called the owner and burst into tears, saying that I was a cruel man who hated women and that she couldn't stand to work for me one more hour, and so she quit. She must have expected the owner to try and talk her out of it, but it was the wrong day to pick this particular fight, because our monthly magazine, Reveal: The Social Bible of Washington, was in such a deep hole financially that the owner had actually been considering whether to fire Annabelle Paige. And now she didn't have to. "Mmmm, delightful!" as Annabelle would say. The only thing our former features editor could do in retaliation was to pull the article she had written for the next issue a profile of a man whose chief accomplishment, other than sucking up to Annabelle, was that he had been named northern Virginia's Car Dealer of the Year. That left me with a two-page hole to fill, but not with a heavy heart.