Friday, October 18, 2013

Book Review: The Paris Wife

Author: Paula McLain
Title: The Paris Wife
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publish Date: Feb 22, 2011
Buy: Amazon
Book Blurb: 
Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking, fast-living, and free-loving life of Jazz Age Paris. As Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history and pours himself into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises, Hadley strives to hold on to her sense of self as her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Eventually they find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.

A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.

Review: There has been so much buzz about this novel about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley. I'm always intrigued by stories such as this one. You know that there is no happy ending for Ernest and Hadley, but you can't help but want to find out how the author got in their heads.

Paula McLain wrote the story primarily from Hadley's point of view, though there are a few snapshot sections told from Ernest's point of view as well.

They seemed like such a perfect couple although there were a lot of things working against them. Hadley was several years older. Both had parents with mental illness that committed suicide. She wanted children, he didn't. The list goes on and on.

If this were a modern day fairy tale gone wrong, it would have been a novel about Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

It is easy to see when everything starts to fall apart for Ernest and Hadley. When she gets pregnant their world changes and not for the better. Plus as they travel they encounter all the rich and wonderful people of their time, Gertrude Stein, The Fitzgerald's, Ezra Pound. Free love was really never freer than in the 1920s.

I didn't know much about Hemingway going in...I'm not one for classic literature, but having read Freud's Mistress and enjoying it. I thought I'd try this one. I found Hemingway to be a similar to Freud in some ways. Mostly because he really had no real regards to the feelings of his wife or many of his friends. (The Torrents Of Spring was a parody of Sherwood Anderson's Dark Laughter). Sherwood helped Ernest get published.

I was really frustrated with Hadley. She fought to win Ernest which wasn't easy, but when it came down to the final year or so of her marriage, she did nothing to keep him, even when she knew his eye was wandering and so were other parts of him.

This wasn't an easy book for me to get into, because of the type of woman Hadley was. She was much to smart to be treated the way Hemingway treated her. What made it worse was was her real life.

Rating: 3 flowers


Josette said...

I knew this book is quite popular but didn't know it's about Hemingway! Intriguing. I hope to read this when I get the chance. Thanks for the review!

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