Saturday, July 30, 2011
The Paris Wife: A Novel by Paula McLain
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 cafe 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 greatest romances in literary history.
I LOVED THIS BOOK!! It is beyond fantastic!! This is now my favorite read of 2011! I'll admit I was hesitant to read this book because of the wonderful reviews it had received and I worried that I would be disappointed - how wrong was I? This book most definitely lived up to all the praise it has been getting from book bloggers, critics and anyone else who has read it. It is mesmerizing and unforgettable!
McLain has written an unputdownable story about Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley Richardson - dubbed the Paris wife, because of the fact that the couple lived in Paris during the 1920s. We get to read all about the first time they meet to the letters they write one another during their courtship. Richardson is older and a bit reserved, whilst Hemingway is young and carefree. And he is passionate about his writing - it is who he is. Without his work, Hemingway feels rather empty. And it definitely doesn't help that they happen to befriend some of literature's most renowned figures, like Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Mind you, they are also just starting to make names for themselves.
I should note, that though this book is about Hadley ( whom I loved reading about ), I found myself much more interested in Hemingway's character. I loved reading about how his short story collections came about and how hard he worked on The Sun Also Rises (my favorite Hemingway book). And I'll admit that I hated Hadley for a split second when she lost all of Tatie's (they were big on nicknames for one another) work on a train - how could she leave the bag unattended and not think someone might steal the bag (thieves do exist!)? why did she even think to stuff all of his writings in one bag and take it with her to begin with? - I did forgive her, eventually. And there are other times that I'm disappointed with her decisions, but I realize that she was just trying to figure out how to make the best of some truly bad situations (absent husband, infidelity, betrayal).
This is a book that leaves you wanting more - more of McLain's work and most definitely more of Hemingway's. You want to devour his writings and try to make sense of this damaged man who could be so cruel to his loved ones and yet be able to produce such amazing stories. Its hard to remember that though you are reading about real life people, you are in fact reading a fictionalized version of them and their life story. Or at least it was hard for me. Either way you will not be disappointed with this fantastic novel. It is worthwhile read for all fans of literary fiction (and fans of Hemingway).
By the by, this was my final read for the Paris in July Challenge. I was a bit late to the game, but I've definitely enjoyed participating. Thanks to BookBath and Thyme for Tea! Looking forward to next year's Paris in July Challenge!! And now, I'm off to listen to some Tiersen. Adieu!