Title: The Paris Wife
Author: Paula McLain
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: February 22, 2011
Hardcover: 336 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
From the Publisher:
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 twenty-eight-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 on to 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.
Being a fan of the works of Ernest Hemingway I could not pass up the chance to read a fictionalised account of his first wife, Hadley Richardson, and I was not disappointed. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain gives the reader a look into Hadley Richardson’s life, and while fictional, McLain relies on biographical accounts to make her story as historically accurate as possible while still maintaining her creative license to bring forth the many larger than life characters who lived in the 1920s. Told through the voice of Hadley the reader will learn about her childhood, Hemmingway’s, and how they appear on the surface to be a perfect match for each other. Hadley supported his endeavours, encouraged Hemingway and moved with him to Paris where they lived an emotionally charged life together. There is so much more I would like to share, but then what would be the point of reading the book, and it should be read. McLain brings to life the 1920s and the up and coming expatriates living in Paris, their lifestyles, and habits. At times it seems as though life is one big party, which is not really a surprise considering Fitzgerald’s work, The Great Gatsby, so much rings true for those living this life in Paris. For those unfamiliar with Hemingway’s works, I strongly encourage they be read, beginning with The Sun Also Rises, as it is one he works on while with Hadley. McLain quickly draws the reader into this story and its cast of characters and their nicknames, into a world, which would be difficult to fathom, if not for McLain’s use of vivid imagery and eloquent prose. After reading The Paris Wife, I realised this book would make for a lively discussion group choice. I found myself torn between Hemingway and Hadley, no I did not agree with his behaviour but I realised I was allowing him more freedom than I would a fictional character. Maybe I was the only Hemingway fan to feel this way, I may never know. What I do know for certain is that I would without doubt recommend The Paris Wife to all readers and book discussion groups.
PAULA MCLAIN was born in Fresno, CA in 1965. After being abandoned by both parents, she and her two sisters became wards of the California Court System, moving in and out of foster homes for the next 14 years. Eventually, she discovered she could — and wanted to — write. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan in 1996, and since then has been a resident at Yaddo and the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the author of two collections of poetry, a much-praised memoir called Like Family (Little Brown, 2003), and one previous and well-received novel, A Ticket to Ride. Paula McLain lives in Cleveland, OH with her family.
Paula McLain’s THE PARIS WIFE VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ‘11 officially began on March 1st and will end on March 25th. Visit here during the month of March to find out more about this great book and talented author!
I received a complimentary copy of The Paris Wife by Paula McLain from Pump Up Your Book Promotion as part of the tour. Receiving a copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.