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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 is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Circling the Sun, The Paris Wife, and A Ticket to Ride, the memoir Like Family: Growing Up in Other People’s Houses, and two collections of poetry. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, O: The Oprah Magazine, Town & Country, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and elsewhere. She lives in Ohio with her family.
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historical in nature and closely parallels real events.
This fascinating story is one of love and betrayal. Written primarily from the point of view of Hadley, the text is also interspersed with brief sections that are meant to reveal Hemingway’s perspective.
The couple was married only six years, 1921-1926, and Hemingway went on to marry three others in succession. Yet, Hemingway held Hadley as the dearest and was said to have wished that he had remained with her always. The Sun Also Rises is dedicated to Hadley and their son.
At age twenty, Hemingway married Hadley Richardson who was eight years his senior. Hadley, painfully shy, had been living a rather secluded life at the home of her sister and her sister's husband. When Ernest and Hadley married, they moved promptly to Paris and Hadley’s life changed dramatically. Many artists and writers were living in Paris and the couple mingled among them. They met Picasso, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others. Liquor flowed freely. Marital affairs were common.
Hemingway had started out as a newspaper reporter and struggled to find a niche with his novels and short stories. With fame, he thought nothing of stepping on those who had helped him get recognition. He began to covet other women who were attracted to the handsome, exciting new writer.
Hemingway is considered one of the greatest American writers. He is often said to be the twentieth century’s most influential writer. Hemingway’s brilliance was tarnished by his selfishness and his lack of feeling for those he trampled. Paula McLain writes adeptly about his character as well as Hadley’s love for Hemingway and her deep hurt. I found this book so very well written and poignant. Hadley’s predicament was movingly portrayed. I found myself intimately pulled into her psyche.
Hadley loved Ernest and was loyal to him until she could not longer feel her own self-worth. It was good to read that after she left Hemingway she found a long lasting love with the journalist Paul Mower.
I highly recommend this book.
What is most fascinating is the way these folks lived. No one seems to belabor the point that Hadley financed Hemingway's early career with her inheritance allowing them to chuck it all in the States and head to Paris. Hemingway was allowed the freedom to take day and night to write. Hem did take reporting jobs here and there as well, but he escaped to a separate flat to write and explore his talent. Hadley, like many married women through history, gave up on her piano, and did it happily, for she was happy seeing Hem happy and simply being with him.
This was no casual affair between the two of them. From the passionate discourse of letters through their courtship while they were apart to the descriptions of their early marriage, it is clear they were close and passionate. Hadley was fiercely loyal and never complained. She was simply crazy about the guy. She watched the craziness going on around her…the affairs, the drinking to excess, the bad manners, the complete distain for the provincial with a discerning eye. Hadley hoped it would not touch her marriage. Sadly, also a common theme among many married women, adultery came a knock knock knocking on her door. The charlatan's face was her "friend" Paula. It seems Hemingway did not have the strength, i.e.. character, to send Paula away. His weakness and ego led him down the ugly road of adultery. Although those around him did not mind Hem having two women in his life, Hadley realizes that there are one too many people on the marital bed (literally, it seems) and steps out from the marriage with her young son.
As you probably know, Hemingway, goes on, as adulterers have been known to do, to replace his mistress with yet another mistress and so on a few more times before he ends his own life. Happily, Hadley's life turns out a bit different. Some have suggested that Hadley was naive or a fool to go for Hemingway. I disagree. She clearly loved the guy, it is not her fault for trying. I found Hadley hopeful and bright and i would like to read more about her.
I enjoyed reading the book because it was about a bunch of really interesting people - who happened to have been real people as opposed to imaginary characters. Unfortunately, none of them was inherently likeable. The people in Hemingway's life (or at least during the period covered by this book) seemed inherently self-absorbed and provocative. Probably a good catalyst for art, but no real warmth. Some of the characters were, by degree, a bit more sympathetic, but ... It would have been exhilirating to be a fly on the wall with that group for a short time. After that, I'd have to fly off to find some nicer people. Still, I was glad to have had the book expose me to the people and the era.