The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife

by Paula McLain

Debbie Weiss (10/07/13): The Paris wife is an interesting account about Ernest Hemingway's first of four wives, Hadley Richardson. It is told from her perspective, with occasional insights from Ernest himself. Their life together was complicated, Americans living most of the time in Europe and surrounding themselves with others from the literary and art worlds. I admired the good person that Hadley was, totally devoted to Ernest and to their son, but I was disappointed in her for allowing Ernest to take such advantage of her and her acceptance, at least for a while, of his continuing unfaithfulness in their marriage. Perhaps that is what females did in the 1920's, but I just wanted to shake her and tell her to move on with her life.

Having read a few of Hemingway's books many years ago, I see now how autobiographical they really were. Ernest gained the success and fame he desired and dreamed about, but at what price?
Rating: ***

Gail Reid (02/26/12): Told from the point of view of Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway's first wife, the Paris Wife recounts their 5-year marriage and the literary life of expat Americans in the 1920's. Hadley, the first of Hemingway's four wives, supports and nurtures him as he emerges from an unknown writer to an American icon. The gallavanting around Paris and Europe with the literati including Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald; the trips to Pamplona for the bullfights; and the tormented return to war sites, all become fodder for Hemingway's stories and books. Alas, these writers and painters, fueled by endless amounts of alcohol and partying, don't live by conventional rules and marriages - like Hadley and "Hem" - suffer for it.

Although this book is a work of historical fiction, it is based on thorough research by Paula McLain through diaries, correspondence and manuscripts. The author is a poet; so it is no surprise that it is beautifully written.
Rating: ****

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