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The Paris Wife (Random House Reader's Circle Deluxe Reading Group Edition): A Novel Kindle Edition
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This new deluxe eBook edition features more than ninety additional pages of exclusive, author-approved annotations throughout the text, which contain new illustrations and photographs, to enrich your reading experience. You can access the eBook annotations with a simple click or tap on your eReader via the convenient links. Access them as you read the novel or as supplemental material after finishing the entire story. There is also Random House Reader’s Circle bonus content, which is sure to inspire discussion at book clubs everywhere.
“A beautiful portrait of being in Paris in the glittering 1920s—as a wife and one’s own woman.”—Entertainment Weekly
The Paris Wife captures the love affair between Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Europe, where they become swept up in the hard-drinking, fast-living, and free-loving life of Jazz Age Paris—hanging out with a volatile group that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. As Ernest struggles to find his literary voice and Hadley strives to hold on to her sense of self, 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.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY People • Chicago Tribune • NPR • The Philadelphia Inquirer • Kirkus Reviews • The Toronto Sun • BookPage
“[Paula] McLain has brought Hadley 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
“Powerful and devastating . . . McLain pulls off a delicate balancing act, making the macho Hemingway of myth a complex and sympathetic figure.”—USA Today
“[A] marvelous . . . tale of love and loss.”—Marie Claire
“A sweet love story with surprising emotional impact.”—Chicago Sun-Times
Most of us know or think we know who Ernest Hemingway was -- a brilliant writer full of macho swagger, driven to take on huge feats of bravery and a pitcher or two of martinis -- before lunch. But beneath this man or myth, or some combination of the two, is another Hemingway, one we’ve never seen before. Hadley Richardson, Hemingway’s first wife, is the perfect person to reveal him to us -- and also to immerse us in the incredibly exciting and volatile world of Jazz-age Paris.
The idea to write in Hadley’s voice came to me as I was reading Hemingway’s memoir, A Moveable Feast, about his early years in Paris. In the final pages, he writes of Hadley, “I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her.” That line, and his portrayal of their marriage -- so tender and poignant and steeped in regret -- inspired me to search out biographies of Hadley, and then to research their brief and intense courtship and letters -- they wrote hundreds and hundreds of pages of delicious pages to another!
I couldn’t help but fall in love with Hadley, and through her eyes, with the young Ernest Hemingway. He was just twenty when they met, handsome and magnetic, passionate and sensitive and full of dreams. I was surprised at how much I liked and admired him -- and before I knew it, I was entirely swept away by their gripping love story.
I hope you will be as captivated by this remarkable couple as I am -- and by the fascinating world of Paris in the 20’s, the fast-living, ardent and tremendously driven Lost Generation.
A Look Inside The Paris Wife
Ernest and Hadley Hemingway, Chamby, Switzerland, winter 1922
Ernest and Hadley Hemingway on their wedding day, 1921
Ernest, Hadley, and Bumby, Schruns, Austria, 1925
The Hemingways and friends at a cafe in Pamplona, Spain
Guest Reviewer: Helen Simonson on The Paris Wife
Helen Simonson is the New York Times bestselling author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. She was born in England and spent her teenage years in a small village in East Sussex. A graduate of the London School of Economics and former travel advertising executive, she has lived in America for the past two decades. After many years in Brooklyn, she now lives with her husband and two sons in the Washington, D.C., area.
Paula McLain has taken on the task of writing a story most of us probably think we already know--that of a doomed starter wife. To make life more difficult, McLain proposes to tell us about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson, who is a twenty-eight-year-old Midwestern spinster when she marries the twenty-one-year-old unpublished, (but already cocksure) writer and runs off to Paris with him. The talent and joy of this novel is that McLain does a startling job of making us understand this as a great love story and seducing us into caring deeply, about both Ernest and Hadley, as their marriage eventually comes apart.
This novel moves beyond the dry bones of biography or skewed personal vision of memoir, and takes a leap into the emotional lives of these characters. It is a leap of faith for those readers who think they know Hemingway, but McLain’s voice sticks close enough to historical material, and to the words and tone of Hemingway’s own writing, to be convincing. She had me at the description of young Hadley’s father committing suicide.
“The carpets had been cleaned but not changed out for new, the revolver had been emptied and polished and placed back in his desk.”
Hadley is also crippled by a childhood fall and trapped into spinsterhood by her mother’s declining health and eventual death. By the time she meets Hemingway, we are rooting for her to make a break for foreign shores--even as we understand the danger of marrying a tempestuous man. Hemingway is all nervous purpose, ambition and charisma as he meets Hadley and is drawn to her quiet strength and ordinary American sweetness. In his youth and uncertainty, she is his rock and yet we already suspect that as he grows in artistic power, she will become an unwanted anchor. Through Hadley’s eyes and plain-speaking voice, we see all of twenties Paris and the larger-than-life artists who gather in the cafes. We drink tea with Gertrude Stein and champagne with Fitzgerald and Zelda. We run with the bulls in Pamplona and spend winters in alpine chalets. And we see, through her love for him, the young writer becoming the Hemingway of legend. Perhaps it is the nature of all great artists to be completely selfish and obnoxious, but Hadley’s voice is always one of compassion. Even as Hemingway leaves her completely out of The Sun also Rises, even as Hemingway publicly flirts with other women, she continues to explain and defend him. It is a testament to Paula McLain that the reader is slow to dislike Hemingway, even as he slowly and inexorably betrays Hadley’s trust.
I loved this novel for its depiction of two passionate, yet humanly-flawed people struggling against impossible odds--poverty, artistic fervor, destructive friendships--to cling on to each other. I raise a toast to Paula McLain’s sure talent.--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B009Y4I4Y2
- Publisher : Ballantine Books; 1st edition (November 27, 2012)
- Publication date : November 27, 2012
- Language : English
- File size : 3760 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 401 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #377,040 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Although McLain covers some of the same territory as The Movable Feast and to a lesser degree, The Sun Also Rises, this fictional account allows the author to show us some of the couple's interior lives. Heavily researched, including the author's digestion of thousands of their love letters, this account takes us from their whirl-wind courtship, to their flight to Paris as newlyweds, and their humble-beginnings in a small flat as they meet the literary royalty who held court in their salons--and we get to be the fly on the wall. We jet-set along with them not just from Chicago to Paris, but also to the bull-fights of Spain, and the ski-resorts of Austria. And since most of you already know "Hem" had three other wives after Hadley, it won't be a spoiler if I tell you it ends with Hadley marrying Paul Mowrer--to whom she remained happily married until his death in 1971.
Writing Style: "Papa" would be proud of the clean, direct prose the author employs to tell the story of his early days. However, her background in poetry is evident in her delicate choice of words. The most remarkable aspect of the book, is how the author was able to withhold judgment and just tell the story--or have Hadley do so. And all the while Ernest is making choices that make the reader cringe, the writer somehow is able to separate the man from the poor choices, in a way that treats this deeply flawed character in a sympathetic way.
She shows this tender understanding--and almost forgiveness--toward "Hem" in one of my favorite passages: "We called Paris the great good place, then, and it was. We invented it after all. We made it with our longing and cigarettes and Rhum St. James; we made it with smoke and smart and savage conversation and we dared anyone to say it wasn't ours. Together we made everything and then we busted it apart again.
There are some who said I should have fought harder or longer than I did for my marriage, but in the end fighting for a love that was already gone felt like trying to live in the ruins of a lost city. I couldn't bear it, and so I backed away--and the reason I could do it at all, the reason I was strong enough and had the legs and the heart to do it, was because Ernest had come along and changed me. He helped me see what I really was and what I could do. Now that I knew what I could bear, I would have to bear losing him."
Characters: The author demonstrates this same even-handedness in both of her main characters. Although, these young newlyweds are certainly a study in opposites attracting. Ernest is as exuberant, sophisticated, and young as Hadley is quiet, un-worldly, and almost passed her marriageable shelf-life for that era. Hadley is as selfless, loyal and sturdy as Ernest is narcissistic, deceitful (to his wife, his friends, and unfortunately even to himself) and moody. It would be simple in the hands of another writer to assume that your family dog had more personality than Hadley--or that Ernest was simply a bi-polar egotist with a bad medical plan. However, in McLain's hands, we find Hadley charmingly conventional and consistent--the kind of person you would want on your side; while we see Ernest as a smart man who makes stupid choices. Over and over again. But we never abandon him--instead we just keep rooting for him to make better choices the next time.
Who else is invited to this wild and crazy Parisian party? How about Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Ezra Pound, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (was she really crazy or just eccentric?) and James Joyce--just for a bit of name-dropping. This supporting cast isn't just famous--many are carefully drawn even if we are not as sympathetic to their plight. And, of course, there' s finally the femme fatale--who we love to hate--and who betrays Hadley and steals her husband--but then, you knew that was coming...
Themes: Of course, McLain threads many themes throughout her tale: Childhood Trauma, Marriage and Relationships, Loss and Forgiveness, Search for Identity, Ambition and Desires, Living Abroad, and the Consequences of Fame.
Why Book Clubs will Love it: It's Paris in the 20's--need I say more? Probably not, but you know I will, anyway. In addition to the themes listed above, the most discussable aspect of this story, is all of the relationships: Hadley and Ernest to their parents and siblings while growing up, to their friends in Chicago, to their new-found friends in Paris, to their son, Bumby, to the city of Paris, and of course, to each other. So be sure to bring an extra bottle of wine to book club that night--the discussion is gonna go late.
Random Rants: If the book is about 1920's Paris--why do we find a 50's housewife (Ok-40's at the earliest) on the cover? Is this the only photograph Ballantine could find? Where is the joie de vivre of 1920's Paris? This dust jacket disconnect is similar to the last book I reviewed, The Four Ms. Bradwells whose cover is adorned with a beautiful double strand of ivory pearls--it's absolutely beautiful. Too bad the infamous pearls from the book were black pearls! Don't the graphic artists responsible for the cover ever talk to someone who's actually read the book anymore?
Pick it up--it's a compelling read your whole club will enjoy!
It feels slightly surreal to be reading a book about a woman called Hadley and a man called Ernest - never quite being able to forget that "Ernest" is Ernest Hemingway, one of my favorite authors. It takes some getting used to, kid. Hadley's first-person voice is so authoritative and convincing that it is often difficult to remember that this is historical fiction, not autobiography. Which also begs the question, how much is fact and how much is fiction? I've read a lot of historical fiction but seldom asked this question so constantly throughout a book. This, from Ernest, certainly rings true: "'I want to write one true sentence,' he said. 'If I can write one sentence, simple and true every day, I'll be satisfied.'"
Hadley is a very realistic character, full of anxieties and dark moods as well as the eagerness and excitement of the newlywed. She is strong and fragile, tough and vulnerable all at once - in short, as full of contradictions as is any human being. However, while she is a very sympathetic character, something bothered me about her and it took me some time to figure out what it was: She is very "domesticated," which I suppose was typical of the times, but she also lacks, to a large degree, her own identity apart from Ernest.
Thus, I found Ernest to be the more interesting character - volatile, but not excessively so for a great writer; enigmatic but also often practical and straightforward; tenacious and determined; sometimes abrasive and always passionate. Hadley certainly does see and understand the real Ernest: "Ernest Hemingway ... seemed to do happiness all the way up and through. There wasn't any fear in him that I could see, just intensity and aliveness. His eyes sparked all over everything ..." As their relationship develops, she sees deeper and deeper into him: "... Some of us had looked into the faces of the dead and tried not to remember anything in particular. Ernest was one of these. He often said he'd died in the war, just for a moment; that his soul had left his body like a silk handkerchief, slipping out and levitating over his chest. It had returned without being called back, and I often wondered if writing for him was a way of knowing his soul was there after all, back in its place. Of saying to himself, if not to anyone else, that he had seen what he'd seen and felt those terrible things and lived anyway. That he had died but wasn't dead any more." Hadley is the one who sees Ernest at his best and worst and everything in between: "He loved and needed praise. He loved and needed to be loved, and even adored ... Ernest did run the show and ran me over more than occasionally, and that wasn't by chance ... He was such an enigma, really - fine and strong and weak and cruel. An incomparable friend and a son of a bitch. In the end, there wasn't one thing about him that was truer than the rest. It was all true."
In contrast, Hadley could often seem tentative and plaintive and overly solicitous of her husband's approval and affection. She is quite aware that she lacks purpose, and embarks on various "projects" to try to find it - from playing the piano to having a baby: "He was inside the creative sphere and I was outside, and I didn't know if anything would ever change that."
A major theme of the book is the legacy of the suffragette movement in the form of the "modern woman." Surrounded by endless examples of these comparatively liberated women in Paris and in Ernest's orbit in general, Hadley spends much of the book trying to find this fierce and fearless quality in herself, almost ashamed to admit that more traditional values and lifestyles appeal to her more. Can an ordinary and unambitious wife hope to hold onto one of the greatest, most innovative and progressive writers of the "lost generation"? Hadley knows well how seemingly impossible this task is: "Marriage could be such deadly terrain. In Paris, you couldn't really turn around without seeing the result of lovers' bad decisions. An artist given to sexual excess was almost a cliche, but no one seemed to mind. As long as you were making something good or interesting or sensational, you could have as many lovers as you wanted and ruin them all. What was really unacceptable were bourgeois values, wanting something small and staid and predictable, like one true love, or a child."
The denouement of this novel could hardly be more perfect. It is messy and complex and moving, but not melodramatic or overly sentimental or trite. It is utterly authentic, utterly real, utterly true. It is just the way life is, in all its imperfect grace and all its terrible beauty. It is the very thing to reflect and amplify the elegant verisimilitude of THE PARIS WIFE as a whole.
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I bought this to read in Paris - though Paris was so fabulous I didn't read anything. I have never managed to get through any Hemingway, and a big part of this was because what I'd read of the man personally made me actively dislike him. The Paris Wife is the fictionalised story of his first marriage to Hadley, and their years primarily in Paris but also in Spain and Austria. I was sold on the idea of the literary Paris of the 1920s, full of great characters like Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Fitzgerald and James Joyce. What I got (or how I read it) was a really sad, sordid tale of two mismatched characters in a doomed marriage. And what I read of Hemingway in this account confirmed everything I'd read of him before too - mysoginistic, selfish, arrogant, a man who couldn't care less who he hurt on his journey to literary fame, and who thought the world and especially his wife was there simply to serve him. The glittering cast were also - to me - tragic, screwed up and extremely unlikeable. I felt sorry for Hadley, but so much of what happened was made worse by her inaction, there were times when I wanted to shake her or scream at her. Nothing Hemingway did seemed too much, and even his ultimate marital sin, of introducing the woman who would become his second wife into the marriage and trying to make of it a menage a trois (in my view simply because he felt he had to, it was something others had and he hadn't tried) wasn't the death knell it should have been. In fact, it took Hemingway actually making love to his mistress while his wife pretended to sleep IN THE SAME BED for Hadley to finally call a halt.
This was a beautifully written book. It was also clearly very well researched, and I imagine a perfect counter-balance to Hemingway's story of the marriage which he published much later. But it was a painful read, and I'm afraid I won't be filling in the Hemingway gap in my own literary reading now.
By Paula McLain
The Paris Wife is written as a novel but tells the true story of Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage. The author says that she was at great pains to make it as accurate as possible. It is well written, as far as the actual prose is concerned and is a fairly easy read.
However I was rather disappointed in the storytelling. I was looking forward to reading about the period and the flamboyant characters involved in their story and found it rather bland. Hadley, the wife, is a rather insipid character, content to live in the shadow of her husband and to meet his expectations, mainly that everything must be sacrificed to his writing.
The whole book lacked passion for me. How can you people a book with literary giants such as Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein in the post WW1 atmosphere of the artist’s quarter in Paris and it lack fire?
I expected much more entertainment value and colour.
This is the story of Hadley - his first wife. They did remain in contact throughout his life.
The more I read about Hemmingway, the more I feel he was a spoiled little boy who wanted his way in everything.
Hadley gave up a lot for him and was as supportive as any wife could be and yet he wanted more.
It is a well-written book and the author brings the people to life in as fair and balanced way as you can with a story like this.