The Paris Wife: Book Review by Arlene
Imagine, if you can, it is the 1920’s and you are a young impressionable woman. You are at a crossroads in your life and you meet Ernest Hemingway at a party in Chicago before he became famous.
You both fall deeply and passionately in love and there is no looking back.
This was Hadley Richardson a quiet twenty-eight year old who has all but given up on love and happiness – This is a quote from the back of the book.
Hadley thought this would never happen for her. Hadley was 28 and Ernest was only 20. They had a whirlwind courtship and wedding then, at the advice of friends, went to Paris where Ernest could meet the right people who would help and guide him along his path and dream of becoming a writer. It was the exciting Jazz Age of Paris, hard drinking, fast living and free loving. They fell in with a lively and volatile group which included Gertrude Stein and F.Scott Fitzgerald.
It has been mentioned that The Paris Wife was nothing more than an interpretation by Paula McLain of Hemingway’s The Moveable Feast. I did not find this to be the case for me.
In my opinion The Paris Wife was meant to be Hadley’s story based on her experiences being married to Ernest Hemingway during that period in time. I feel that Paula McClain impressively told that story.
While reading the novel the reader gets to know Hadley, feel her strengths and weaknesses and most importantly of all why she stayed in her marriage to Ernest Hemingway.
This novel tells the passionate love story, their early marriage and then their early life in Paris, the birth of their son and Hadley’s struggle to find herself and her worth and exactly where she belonged while Ernest pursued his dream of becoming an acclaimed writer.
The novel takes the reader through Hadley’s eyes until the ultimate betrayal and the end of their marriage.
I felt I learned things I never knew about this couple and am so glad Paula McClain chose to write Hadley’s story. I felt it was meant to be written from Hadley’s point of view.
I felt McClain did an outstanding job in capturing the time period and the lives of the young and famously wealthy people of that era. There were so many extremely well written moments in the lives of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley during the years they were together.
Of course, everyone knows Ernest Hemingway wrote The Sun Also Rises. The Paris Wife takes you into depth of his struggle to write it and get it published.
He suffered from bouts of depression and would go off on his own to work and be alone and deal with his own struggles of the time. I found this to be an interesting and informative part of his life.
This novel takes you through the journey of a loving couple, a baby they both adored, love and deception and eventually the heartfelt break-up of their life together.
Hadley was his first wife. He lived to have 3 more. Hadley moves on in her life and finds love again. Others have said this book was just another telling of Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, as I previously mentioned, but I feel The Paris Wife stands alone in the telling of the love story and redemption of Ernest and Hadley.
As has been written this book is a heartfelt portrayal of love and torn loyalty. The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway writes that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.
This novel inspired me to pick up a new copy of The Sun Also Rises and read it again and what it took out of his life with Hadley. The character of Pauline, who became his second wife, played a pivotal role in the dissolution of his marriage to Hadley – but, in the end it would always be Hadley.
I loved the way McClain portrays her, I felt when I read the last page that I knew her and I liked her immensely. The Paris Wife now sits on my bookshelf with my other favorites.
Historical fiction at its best!!
Check out the book club discussion questions for The Paris Wife!