Review: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Synopsis: A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time—Paris in the twenties—and an extraordinary love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

In Chicago in 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 finds herself captivated by his good looks, intensity, and passionate desire to write. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group of expatriates that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

But the hard-drinking and fast-living café life does not celebrate traditional notions of family and monogamy. As Hadley struggles with jealousy and self-doubt and Ernest wrestles with his burgeoning writing career, they must confront a deception that could prove the undoing of one of the great romances in literary history.

For more information on The Paris Wife, to learn some interesting tidbits, and view pictures, please visit Random House.

My Review:

Paula McLain not only describes the amazing relationship between Ernest Hemingway and Hadley Richardson, but she propels the reader back to the 1920’s in Paris.  The love story between Ernest and Hadley is so special and unique, that Paula McLain does not have to create much fiction in this book.  While we learn about their relationship, marriage, and parenting, we also witness the struggles Ernest has as a beginning writer and his relationship with other artists in Paris.  Through the friendships Hadley and Ernest establish with their friends in Paris, the reader gets a glimpse into the lives of  F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and even Pauline Pfeiffer (who later becomes Ernest’s second wife).

It was interesting to learn about Hadley’s childhood, her parents, and their low expectations of her.  Ernest’s own family history is quite intriguing and the similarities that both Ernest and Hadley have in their family of origin.  Their family background and commonalities gave them a much greater appreciation and understanding of one another, which Paula McLain beautifully illustrates in this book.  In the book, Paula shares the thoughts and writing Ernest creates, which become literary masterpieces, such as The Old Man and The Sea, The Sun Also Rises, and The Torrents of Spring.

Paula McLain’s writing truly captures the essence of this time period and gives the reader a more intimate glimpse into the early years of Ernest Hemingway as a writer and partner as well as a greater appreciation and love for Hadley.

After reading this book, I wanted to know more about who Ernest Hemingway was and read his books.  I just finished reading A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway.  It was interesting to read his point of view during the Paris years!

His life is fascinating and tragic, and Paula is able to capture this specific time period, where the reader sees Ernest in his purest and truest form as a writer, friend, and husband.  Most importantly, Paula gives Hadley a voice and shows that she was indeed Ernest’s greatest love and supporter.

I highly recommend this book!!

Below are some interesting sites for you to look at regarding Hemingway, his wives, and children.

The Hemingway Project

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway Books

Hemingway Photos

An Interview with Valerie Hemingway

This Recording

Friends of the Fitzgeralds

A Tribute to Gregory Hemingway

John Hemingway (son of Gregory Hemingway)

John Hemingway, writes Strange Tribe: A Family Memoir

Hemingway: His Years

Hemingway Timeline

Hemingway-Pfeiffer Timeline

Some great pics:

Ernest and Hadley

Ernest and Hadley get married

Skiing with their son, Bumby