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The Paris Wife: A Novel Audible – Unabridged

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Editorial Reviews

A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife, Hadley.

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet 28-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness-until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. 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 and Zelda Fitzgerald.

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises.

Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold onto her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually 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.

©2011 Paula Mclain (P)2011 Random House

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1,130 of 1,162 people found the following review helpful By "switterbug" Betsey Van Horn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
At the end of Ernest Hemingway's memoir, A Moveable Feast , he writes of his first wife, Hadley Richardson, "I wish I had died before I loved anyone but her." After their divorce, Hemingway marries three more times, each one prompt to follow, like serial wives. This is the story of the woman that loved him before he was famous.

Paula McLain researched their biographies, letters, and Hemingway's novels, culling the material to imagine a story of their charmed and battered marriage in Paris, from 1921-1926. The tortured life and tragically foreshadowed suicide of Ernest Hemingway is public knowledge, as was his legendary womanizing. McLain's novel dodges the palaver, blending the facts that are known together with credible inference, creating a plausible, informed depiction of Hemingway and Hadley's marriage--the quotidian, the famed, the halcyon, the harsh.

The author writes from Hadley's point of view, inviting the reader inside their most tender and demolishing moments. A few choice sections belong to Hemingway's perspective, urgent and telling. The narrative deftly folds in their histories--the years before they met--artfully revealing early and private woes, which ripple and sometimes hiss beneath the ardor. We get the back stories without muddled exposition; by the time it arrives at the failure of their union, readers have acquired a fluency of Hadley's nature and Hemingway's core.

Hadley sustained several painful childhood experiences that eerily parallel Hemingway's, and was a recluse and "spinster" at twenty-eight, when she met and was courted by the twenty-one-year-old Hemingway.
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208 of 217 people found the following review helpful By Rushmore VINE VOICE on February 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I had the most curious reaction to this book. About 3/4 of the way through I had decided I would give it 4 stars, and I wasn't happy about it. Although it felt very authentic, the prose didn't sing, and I thought I knew why. Hadley Richardson Hemingway simply didn't have a dynamic personality. The story as told mostly through her voice contained lots of detail but Hadley felt more like an observer than a player much of the time. Then when Ernest strayed, the game changed. Hadley showed her considerable inner strength and I felt her heart breaking. She let down her guard enough to show that she was in fact a remarkable woman, and this is a remarkable book.

Paula McLain has clearly read lots of Hemingway. The writing style is Hemingwayesque. It feels right for this story and for Hadley's voice because she was so much more reserved than the others in their circle. In the end, McLain quite neatly analyzes Ernest and the marriage, and the book is so readable. Although it is fiction, I don't doubt that it really could have happened this way. The book is obviously thoroughly researched. Historic fiction is so tricky, and I think it fails more often than it succeeds. This is by far the best historic novel I have ever read. I don't want to spoil the delights in these pages, but I will share a highlight for me. When Hemingway and Fitzgerald were editing The Sum Also Rises at the kitchen table, Hadley compared them to surgeons. At that point I think she realized that Ernest's greatness as a writer would surmount his failings as a husband and a human being. I thought it was a fabulous moment.

I really think this book is a triumph. The subject matter definitely piqued my interest, the writing was flawless, and I wish there could be a sequel.
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365 of 391 people found the following review helpful By Gayla M. Collins VINE VOICE on February 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ernest Hemingway, 21, marries Hadley Richardson eight years his senior and promptly moves with her to Paris to be among the upstarts, the in crowd, the expatriates that worshipped Paris as their city of creativity. Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald not to mention famous actors, musicians and painters were their companions though they often lived hand to mouth. Content to live in Ernest's shadow, providing him with much needed stability and a shoulder, Hadley embraces his love of of the outdoors, spontaneous moves to various Euorpean locals, bull fighting, horse racing and for a time, drinking. But soon the lure and glamour began to fade. The eccentricities of open marriages, mistresses and provocative lifestyles leaves Hadley at loss especially after the birth of their son. Hemingway's constant moodiness, carousing, heavy drinking, lack of decorum and superior attitude begin to unravel his wife's resolve. His resentment of her few friendships also speak to his possessiveness and selfish nature. When "fame" arrives it shatters all handrails that Hadley has clung to. The intense love she feels for Ernest drives her to fight for their marriage and for Ernest's life, but to what avail?

I adored the book, "Loving Frank" by Nancy Horner all about Frank Lloyd Wright and his mistress; it as well as "The Paris Wife," demonstrate the incredible sacrifices a companion must make to cajole an artist's tender ego. Not surprisingly I see Nancy Horan endorsed this book and rightfully she should. The writing is so beautifully strong as it exposes lifestyles of creative geniuses. Paula MClain does an amazing job of keeping the reader glued to the perils of this complex couple.
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