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The Paris Wife Paperback – November 27, 2012
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“A beautiful portrait of being in Paris in the glittering 1920s—as a wife and as one’s own woman.”—Entertainment Weekly
“[Paula] McLain has brought Hadley [Hemingway] to life in a novel that begins in a rush of early love. . . . A moving portrait of a woman slighted by history, a woman whose . . . story needed to be told.”—The Boston Globe
“The Paris Wife creates the kind of out-of-body reading experience that dedicated book lovers yearn for, nearly as good as reading Hemingway for the first time—and it doesn’t get much better than that.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Exquisitely evocative . . . This absorbing, illuminating book gives us an intimate view of a sympathetic and perceptive woman, the striving writer she married, the glittering and wounding Paris circle they were part of. . . . McLain reinvents the story of Hadley and Ernest’s romance with the lucid grace of a practiced poet.”—The Seattle Times
“A novel that’s impossible to resist. It’s all here, and it all feels real.”—People
About the Author
Paula McLain received her M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Michigan and has been awarded fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the author of two collections of poetry; a memoir, Like Family: Growing Up in Other People’s Houses; and a first novel, A Ticket to Ride. She lives in Cleveland with her family.
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Ernest Hemingway was a writer on the cusp in Paris; he was championed by Sherwood Anderson (whom he eventually turns on, writing a satirical novel to his) and he hung out with expatriates Gertrude Stein and Alice Tokias, Ezra Pound and his lover, Shakespear (no "e" at the end), and later, with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Gerald and Sara Murphy. He eagerly sought advice, learning to fine-tune his craft, especially with the guidance of Gertrude Stein: "She'd hit on something he'd recently begun to realize about directness, about stripping language all the way down."
Hadley meets Ernest meets Ernest whom is almost ten years younger at her friends house in Chicago and marries him after a short courtship.We can hear Hadleys recount of their time in Paris and their passionate short lived marriage, since he will leave her for another woman Pauline Pfeiffer, who embraces them both, calling them "her cherishables" making it difficult to stomach her acts and how she manages to push herself into a his head and heart while ripping open the heart of "her friend" Hadley.
Years later, Ernest Hemingway - who married four times in all - writes of Hadley, "I wish I had died before I loved anyone but her."
Also valid critique of Hemingway's early career and intimate look at his personality. Most importantly, it was a wonderful love story. Really enjoyed getting to know Hadley!
It took me a while to get into this book, then I began to enjoy the main part, when Hemingway is in Paris as an expatriate and meeting exciting people and starting some of his great work. Hemingway was not the most likable of people but he was interesting and talented. The same can not be said for his wife. I found her to be quite dull and so I am not sure of the purpose of this novel.
Many accounts have been written about Hemingway's time in Paris and if this had been non-fiction, it might have been relevant to have Hadley's point of view. But for a fiction book, not so much.
The book was redeemed by the other characters in the book that we are more familiar with, such as Gertrude Stein, the Fitzgeralds, James Joyce, and Ezra Pound. But Hadley added nothing other than being a long-suffering wife who misplaced a great deal of Hemingway's earlier work and tried to have a normal life with a man who wanted the opposite.
I didn't really connect with her, so I didn't care as she lost Ernest to another woman. I figured she was better off anyway and it appears that she was.
I'm not sure why this book has received so much praise, I guess I am a dissenting opinion. I'm giving it a 3 rating only because I do love to read about this time period.
my rating 3/5