Friday, April 12, 2013

Book Review: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Ballantine Books, 2011; 314 pages; ISBN 0345521307
My Goodreads Rating: 3.5 stars

I took a listen to the audiobook of The Paris Wife, which is the story of Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley Richardson and more than anything what I took away from the book was a feeling of getting a clearer picture of Ernest Hemingway and his early years as a writer.  The book was never exciting enough or perhaps brilliant enough to warrant a higher rating, but it was still pleasurable and interesting.  The story unfolds from the perspective of Hadley Richardson, who was married to Hemingway from 1921 until 1926.  In the beginning their relationship is beautiful and young. They both have stars in their eyes and Paris seems like a brilliant constellation where they can both map out their dreams (they also travel to other cities, like Chicago and Toronto).  But as the months and years wear on and Hadley has a child, it becomes harder and harder to maintain a sense of themselves. Ernest has a difficult time dealing with set backs in so far as his writing, and Hadley has a hard time situating herself and basically keeping up with Ernest.  Their story was one of true love, but loyalties falter, and in the end Hadley loses Hemingway to another woman, although I think she actually loses him to himself and his writing.  They had one son during their marriage, John Hadley Nicanor Hemingway, and one thing I did enjoy very much from listening to the novel was the opportunity to learn more about Hadley Richardson as a woman - how she met and fell in love with Ernest Hemingway, and then that prompted me to read more about her in other sources as well.  I learned how she lost some of his manuscripts while in Europe and how Hemingway became obsessed with bullfighting. Also, more insight was given into relationships the couple had with other prominent characters, such as Gertrude Stein and the Fitzgeralds.  All in all it was nice to know that she lived a long life and that she took part in the life of one of our greatest authors.  This is a great book for history and literature lovers and the audio book was well read by Carrington Macduffie.

Photo: From website

1 comment:

  1. I loved that book, knew nothing about Hemingway, for me very informative!

    Marlene Detierro (Fishing Lodge Alaska)