Book Review: The Paris Wife

In pursuit of reaching my goal of 30 books by the end of January 2014 (and boy, do I have a LONG way to go), I picked up this book in the Denver Airport.  It sounded interesting, and  recently I’ve taken an affinity to all things from the 1920’s.  It seems like such a charmed time in people’s lives, enjoying everything that was within reach.   The Paris Wife describe’s the life and events of Ernest Hemmingway’s first wife, Hadley, as they started their marriage and moved to Paris.  The language and description was excellent, but the story a bit heart breaking.  I found myself ready to kill Hemmingway at many points in the book.  What an excellent job the author, Paula McLain, does in evoking such emotions from me.  I couldn’t put the book down on the last night and poured through the last half of it in one sitting.

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Book Overview:

“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 becomeThe 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.”