- File Size: 3760 KB
- Print Length: 336 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (November 27, 2012)
- Publication Date: November 27, 2012
- Sold by: Random House LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B009Y4I4Y2
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,356 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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
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wife, Hadley Richardson, who is a twenty-eight-year-old Midwestern spinster when she marries the twenty-one-year-old unpublished, (but already cocksure) writer and runs off to Paris with him.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.
“By making the ordinary come to life, McLain has written a beautiful portrait of being in Paris in the glittering 1920s — as a wife and one's own woman.... McLain's vivid, clear-voiced novel is a conjecture, an act of imaginary autobiography on the part of the author. Yet her biographical and geographical research is so deep, and her empathy for the real Hadley Richardson so forthright (without being intrusively femme partisan), that the account reads as very real indeed.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Written much in the style of Nancy Horan's Loving Frank ... Paula McLain's fictional account of Hemingway's first marriage beautifully captures the sense of despair and faint hope that pervaded the era and their marriage.” —Associated Press
“Lyrical and exhilarating . . . McLain offers a raw and fresh look at the prolific Hemingway. In this mesmerizing and helluva-good-time novel, McLain inhabits Richardson’s voice and guides us from Chicago—Richardson and Hemingway’s initial stomping ground—to the place where their life together really begins: Paris.” —Elle
“McLain’s vivid account of the couple’s love affair and expat adventures will leave you feeling sad yet dazzled.” —Parade
“Told in the voice of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain, is a richly imagined portrait of bohemian 1920s Paris, and of America literature’s original bad boy.” —Town & Country
“Novelist and memoirist Paula McLain traces the life of Hadley Hemingway, first wife of Ernest Hemingway, in this evocative novel set largely in Paris in the Jazz Age.” —Christian Science Monitor
“McLain's novel not only gives Hadley a voice, but one that seems authentic and admirable.... A certain amount of bravery is required in writing a novel that channels a giant of American literature. Yet McLain pulls it off convincingly, conveying Hemingway's interior life and his profound struggles. She makes a compelling case that Hadley was a crucial (and long-lasting) influence on Hemingway's writing life: a partner as well as a cheerleader. She also revisits, with remarkable detail, a singular era in history, one that would produce some of the greatest literary works of the 20th century.” —Newsday
“Engrossing and heartbreaking.... McLain is masterful at mining Hadley's confusion and pain, her crushing realization that she cannot fight for a love that has already disappeared.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer
“A well-crafted novel ... Paula McLain is a master at creating narratives that are so lively, they seem to leap from the printed page.” —Tucson Citizen
“One of the most important books of this year. McLain is a novelist to watch.” —Naples Daily News
"The Paris Wife is mesmerizing. Hadley Hemingway’s voice, lean and lyrical, kept me in my seat, unable to take my eyes and ears away from these young lovers. Paula McLain is a first-rate writer who creates a world you don’t want to leave. I loved this book." —Nancy Horan, New York Times bestselling author of Loving Frank
"After nearly a century, there is a reason that the Lost Generation and Paris in the 1920’s still fascinate. It was a unique intersection of time and place, people and inspiration, romance and intrigue, betrayal and tragedy. The Paris Wife brings that era to life through the eyes of Hadley Richardson Hemingway, who steps out of the shadows as the first wife of Ernest, and into the reader’s mind, as beautiful and as luminous as those extraordinary days in Paris after the Great War." —Mary Chapin Carpenter, singer and songwriter
“Despite all that has been written about Hemingway by others and by the man himself, the magic of The Paris Wife is that this Hemingway and this Paris, as imagined by Paula McLain, ring so true I felt as if I was eavesdropping on something new. As seen by the sure and steady eye of his first wife, Hadley, here is the spectacle of the man becoming the legend set against the bright jazzed heat of Paris in the 20s. As much about life and how we try and catch it as it is about love even as it vanishes, this is an utterly absorbing novel.” —Sarah Blake, New York Times bestselling author of The Postmistress
"McLain offers a vivid addition to the complex-woman-behind-the-legendary-man genre, bringing Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, to life.... The heart of the story--Ernest and Hadley's relationship--gets an honest reckoning, most notably the waves of elation and despair that pull them apart." —Publishers Weekly --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
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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.
Even knowing the ultimate outcome, the story captivated me. Hadley's descriptions and reactions brought me into their lives, made bohemian Paris sizzle, evoked the bravery and cruelty of Pamplona corridas, brought the sordid and splendid friendships and affairs into keen relief. At times Hadley's passivity frustrated me, yet she held values of an earlier generation, aspiring only to be a good wife and sometimes muse. Ernest's mercurial personality was exposed, his hubris and awesome creativity. Eventually his passion for women, and the inevitable wounds of marriage, pushed him to the affair that ended it, and Hadley caved. Sad, joyful, poignant, truthful, furious, reflective—the story is well written and meaningful to those who have read Hemingway's works, especially The Sun Also Rises.
Overall, I think the writing was good. I think what the author did - the time and effort to get all these details right and truly make a story of such fascinating people come to life - was remarkable. I only read one piece of Hemingway, but I am certainly up for reading more of his work. I was certainly intrigued by their story coming to life in this book. That was something I was not expecting. I found myself drawn in, but also, inevitably sad. I didn't know much about Hemingway or Hadley, and I definitely ruined part of the "story" by researching while I was reading because I was too curious to wait. I really appreciated this effort of research and passion, and I think she did a great job.
Top international reviews
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.
Told from Hadley's perspective, her character in particular shines through most of all; McLain portraying a strong, sensitive and mature young woman, who succeeds in remaining true to herself despite the larger than life characters she is surrounded by. Furthermore, her supportive and nurturing role towards Ernest highlights her as a central figure in his life; her encouragement and gentle strength and resilience during his early struggles as a writer and with battling his own personal demons perhaps more crucial than she was always given credit for.
Ernest himself is a much more complicated figure; charismatic, yet also unlikeable at times. McLain provides a fascinating insight into his literary genius, the figures that were influential to him and his own rise to becoming one of the most important writers of his time. To McLain's credit, even though the story is told from Hadley's point of view, that never deters from Ernest being a sympathetic character despite his flaws.
McLain also does a wonderful job of capturing the spirit of Paris during the jazz age, with its bohemian set of eccentric artists and extrapiates, including the likes of Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound and Scott Fitzgerald; her writing conjuring up the romanticism, decadence and excitement of the time.
The central relationship between Hadley and Ernest itself is engaging and believable through all its highs and lows; the challenges and frustrations felt by both parties particularly well portrayed, especially in terms of trying to hold onto domestic harmony and a purity of love amidst a rising fame and when competing with an ambition as passionate and ruthless as Ernest's. The story's ending in particular I felt was poignant and haunting almost as we come full circle in a way.
Perhaps a little over-stretched and slow in pace in places, overall this makes for a fascinating read, particularly for anyone interested in 'The Lost Generation', with its rich evocation of that period in history; but equally it makes for a mature and heart-breaking love story enjoyable in its own right.
Set in 1920's Paris, the author has painted a fabulous picture of decadence and Bohemian living. Hemmingway and his wife enter this scene with little money and a certain distain for the extravagance, but they are eventually swept into a way of life that threatens to destroy all that they hold dear.
They met in Jazz Age Chicago, Hadley in her late twenties, Earnest just 21, and after a brief, long-distance romance, they married to travel to France. Hemminway is still traumatised fom WWI and leans heavily on Hadley for support. He is just beginning his writing career and desperately needs her praise for his work.
They settle gradually into France, meeting many of the big names in literature. Hemmingway has periods of great productivity and patches where he struggles to write, depending on his moods. He can't have been easy to live with.
They travelled through Europe, spending moinths at a time away from Paris. The bull fighting in Pamploma was a particular draw.
They were a rarity, a marriage that appeared to work, a monogomous couple. But the pressures around them and the sexual freedoms made this hard to maintain and the marriage only lasted for 5 years. Apparently Hadley was the love of Hemmingway's life and in later life he regretted certain decisions that he made at this time.
This was wonderfully written, mainly narrated by Hadley, rather than Hemmingway. I think the book would have read very differently had it been Hemmingway's voice.
I have never read anything by Hemmingway, nor the other authors with whom he mixed, but my curiosity has now been aroused and I would particularly like to read one of the books written, semi-biographically, from this time. Possibly A Movable Feast would be a good place to start.
This was a fascinating view of 20's Paris, as lived by the artistic set. A great read, highly recommended.
But do not expect a happy book: interesting, informative, a period piece, but not happy. As the author says in her Prologue, "this is not a detective story". I imagine that most readers know the outcome. But neither is it simply "a portrait of a divorce", to use the words of one reviewer. It's much more than that. For most of the book the marriage in question is going well enough and "the girl who will come along and ruin everything" does not appear until relatively late on. En route we are treated to all sorts of stories, places and events. Not for a moment is it boring; it holds your attention throughout. And it is so personal that Hadley herself could have written it.
The book portrays a colony of rich and drunken English-speaking expatriates, mainly American: a cast-list of celebrities. Almost no French people feature at all, although I imagine that most of the expats spoke at least adequate French. But when Hadley says, "this was not my world. These were not my kind of people.......", you have to sympathise.
But don't let that put you off. This book is excellent, quite an insight and well worth reading.
So many family members of his have committed suicide and he also suffered badly during the war, my impression is that he feared anyone getting close to him.. Hadley seems to grow stronger by the end of this book respect to her I am amazed at all that poor woman had to put up with !
There is period detail and a real sense of location in this novel; and the opportunity to rub shoulders with many of the artistic lights of the day. Seen through Hadley's eyes, they acquire an altogether more earthly presence.
This book is easy to read, and the combination of literary reference, and warm, human contact, makes it very enjoyable.
Hemmingway comes across as intense, often fun and incredibly needy, so much so that he finds it difficult to spend time alone. He has a hedonistic bent, always taking himself to the edge which you can see in his views on the great toreadors `You have to already be dead in order to really live and to conquer the animal'. And while a man like this can be a enjoyable initially, and easy to fall in love with, it's difficult to maintain a relationship with them long term.
But this book is told from Hadley's point of view, and she's the person that I found most interesting in this book. Yes, she is madly in love with Hemmingway, but she gives up so much of her life to be with him and depends on him to such a great extent practically collapsing when he goes away on press and then writing trips. It's really a recipe for disaster - no wonder that their marriage collapses.
This is a really well written and interesting book - McLain's voice is so convincing that I had to check a few times I wasn't reading an autobiography. While Hemmingway is most definitely a bad guy, but any modern female reader would no doubt wonder if Hadley wasn't partly to blame for the effect he had on her.
You could be there with the Hemmingways as Ms McLain takes you through the difficulty of a struggling author and their lives in the typical Paris garrets in which they lived - contrasted with the rich and famous of their day with whom they mingled.
I can't tell you the end of the book but you will probably guess it some way through. I hardly ever rank a novel this high but you really should read it.