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The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
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The Paris Wife

by Paula McLain

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,1992601,740 (3.7)256
  1. 80
    A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (alanteder, codehooligans)
  2. 10
    The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (kiwiflowa)
  3. 43
    The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (voracious)
    voracious: A female perspective of a similar time period with a romantic, optimistic point of view. Similar as it describes the joy of love and finding the perfect words.
  4. 00
    Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler (shearon)
  5. 00
    Scott Fitzgerald: A Biography by Jeffrey Meyers (KayCliff)
  6. 00
    Alabama Song by Gilles Leroy (Cecilturtle)
  7. 00
    Hadley by Gioia Diliberto (alanteder)
  8. 00
    The Garden on Sunset by Martin Turnbull (heatherlove)
    heatherlove: Set in the same era but Garden on Sunset is set in Hollywood instead of Paris, like The Paris Wife.
  9. 00
    F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Last Laocoon by Robert Sklar (KayCliff)
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English (261)  German (2)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (265)
Showing 1-5 of 261 (next | show all)
While the writing was good in this novel, I was consistently disappointed in the main characters. It certainly left me with a dislike of Hemingway. And I was having a hard time with Hadley. Both were people that I couldn't identify with in any way. Perhaps it was the times or the situation - but I didn't enjoy the story of their lives together.

Based on other things I have read, it seems to be historically accurate and the author certainly made the characters come to life - so much so I thoroughly disliked them! ( )
  tinkerbellkk | Jun 9, 2015 |
Well-written and usually engaging, but as I read I struggled to sympathize with Hadley (or Hemingway). Makes me want to re-read A Movable Feast. ( )
  saholc | Jun 8, 2015 |
I enjoyed reading this well-researched novel and kept turning the pages because I wanted to learn what happened next, with Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley Richardson. They met and fell in love in Chicago in 1920 and married in 1921 and soon moved to Paris as Hemingway sought to use his great talent to write memorable books. They had a deep love and Hemingway always said Hadley was so good he didn’t deserve her. As Hadley said “His mood was low … he’d gotten several more rejections.” Starting when he was severely injured as a volunteer Red Cross ambulance driver in WWI, when he was 19, he faced serious depression and flashbacks to war. Hemingway said “I want to write one true sentence”, one every day and he succeeded in that, though his personal life was chaotic and yes, Hadley was his first wife. He went on to marry a total of four times. This book focuses on their living in Paris when it was a gathering place for genius of all kinds, and I recommend this book to all who love Paris, Hemingway and a love story. ( )
  hangen | May 26, 2015 |
I listened to this on CD & found I very interesting. Very well researched & quite historically accurate (according to my brief post-read research about Hadley Richardson.) My personal opinion of Hemingway did not change, but it was interesting to find out about his early career & first message. A good read, even if you hate Hemingway! ( )
  mfdavis | May 20, 2015 |
April 25
I enjoyed reading the Paris Wife, watching the lives of Earnest Hemingway and Hadley Richardson evolve through their early courtship, pursuing the literary life in Paris, drinking with Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein, the Fitzgeralds, Sherwood Anderson. What's not to love about getting a glimpse of the influences that formed one of the great writers. "The accordion and the whores and the retching,” he said. “That’s our music.”

The author gives us this insight from the view of Hadley, the first wife, who is by all accounts a decent, strong women who is swept away by the excitement of living this life with this man. She seemed to accept that she was there to help him become great, accept that she was not the artist, not the one who counted. The novel takes us through their love of cafes and bullfights, and skiing. She was able to join in the adventure and bear him a child. However she was not able to bear his attraction to another woman, her friend actually. It was a time when the threesome may have worked - 1920's Paris - but not for her.

"If I looked at the bicycles one way, they looked very solid, like sculpture, with afternoon light glinting cleanly off the chrome handlebars— one, two, three, all in a row. If you looked at them another way, you could see just how thin each kickstand was under the weight of the heavy frame, and how they were poised to fall like dominoes or the skeletons of elephants or like love itself. But when I noticed this, I kept it to myself because that, too, was part of the unwritten contract."

Her parting with Hemingway was also done in a noble fashion, a release so to speak, acknowledging that he needed more and a hope for his happiness. ( )
  novelcommentary | Apr 25, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 261 (next | show all)
Paula McLain has built “The Paris Wife” around Hadley. Or at least she has planted Hadley in the midst of a lot of famous, ambitious people. The advantage to this technique is that it allows the reader to rub shoulders and bend elbows with celebrated literary types: the stay-at-home way of feeling like the soigné figure on the book cover. The drawback is that Ms. McLain’s Hadley, when not in big-league company that overshadows her, isn’t a subtly drawn character. She’s thick, and not just in physique. She’s slow on the uptake, and she can be a stodgy bore.
 
Indeed, this book is a more risky affair than its sometimes sugary surface betrays. Taking up the Hemingway story inevitably means comparisons with Papa himself, and McLain courageously draws fire by including interludes written from his perspective: hard-bitten monologues with such lines as "You might as well bring yourself down and make yourself stinking sick with all you do because this is the only world there is." It's not exactly up there with John Cheever's classic parody, but it certainly does the job.

An appealing companion volume to A Moveable Feast, then, but once it's finished, turn back to the original, with its cool, impressionistic prose. It can hardly be said that the least interesting thing about Hemingway is the way he lived his life, but let's not forget that it's his writing that endures.
 
An imaginative, elegantly written look inside the marriage of Ernest Hemingway and Hadley Richardson.
added by Shortride | editKirkus Reviews (Jan 15, 2011)
 
Colorful details of the expat life in Jazz Age Paris, combined with the evocative story of the Hemingways' romance, result in a compelling story that will undoubtedly establish McLain as a writer of substance. Highly recommended for all readers of popular fiction.
added by Christa_Josh | editLibrary Journal, Susanne Wells (Nov 15, 2010)
 
The Paris Wife, McLain has taken their love story, partially told by Hemingway himself in A Moveable Feast, and fashioned a novel that's impossible to resist. It's all here, and it all feels real...
 
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Epigraph
It is not what France gave you but what it did not take from you that was important. -Gertrude Stein
There's no one thing that's true. It's all true. -Ernest Hemingway
Dedication
First words
Though I often looked for one, I finally had to admit that there could be no cure for Paris.
Quotations
He wanted everything there was to have, and more than that.
We had the best of each other.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
History is sadly neglectful of the supporting players in the lives of great artists. Fortunately, fiction provides ample opportunity to bring these often fascinating personalities out into the limelight. Gaynor Arnold successfully resurrected the much-maligned Mrs. Charles Dickens in Girl in a Blue Dress (2009), now Paula McLain brings Hadley Richardson Hemingway out from the formidable shadow cast by her famous husband. Though doomed, the Hemingway marriage had its giddy high points, including a whirlwind courtship and a few fast and furious years of the expatriate lifestyle in 1920s Paris. Hadley and Ernest traveled in heady company during this gin-soaked and jazz-infused time, and readers are treated to intimate glimpses of many of the literary giants of the era, including Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. But the real star of the story is Hadley, as this time around, Ernest is firmly relegated to the background as he almost never was during their years together. Though eventually a woman scorned, Hadley is able to acknowledge without rancor or bitterness that "Hem" had "helped me to see what I really was and what I could do." Much more than a "woman-behind-the-man" homage, this beautifully crafted tale is an unsentimental tribute to a woman who acted with grace and strength as her marriage crumbled. amazon com
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345521307, Hardcover)

Author Paula McLain on The Paris Wife
Most of us know or think we know who Ernest Hemingway was -- a brilliant writer full of macho swagger, driven to take on huge feats of bravery and a pitcher or two of martinis -- before lunch. But beneath this man or myth, or some combination of the two, is another Hemingway, one we’ve never seen before. Hadley Richardson, Hemingway’s first wife, is the perfect person to reveal him to us -- and also to immerse us in the incredibly exciting and volatile world of Jazz-age Paris.

The idea to write in Hadley’s voice came to me as I was reading Hemingway’s memoir, A Moveable Feast, about his early years in Paris. In the final pages, he writes of Hadley, “I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her.” That line, and his portrayal of their marriage -- so tender and poignant and steeped in regret -- inspired me to search out biographies of Hadley, and then to research their brief and intense courtship and letters -- they wrote hundreds and hundreds of pages of delicious pages to another!

I couldn’t help but fall in love with Hadley, and through her eyes, with the young Ernest Hemingway. He was just twenty when they met, handsome and magnetic, passionate and sensitive and full of dreams. I was surprised at how much I liked and admired him -- and before I knew it, I was entirely swept away by their gripping love story.

I hope you will be as captivated by this remarkable couple as I am -- and by the fascinating world of Paris in the 20’s, the fast-living, ardent and tremendously driven Lost Generation.

A Look Inside The Paris Wife

Ernest and Hadley Hemingway, Chamby, Switzerland, winter 1922
Ernest and Hadley Hemingway on their wedding day, 1921
Ernest, Hadley, and Bumby, Schruns, Austria, 1925

The Hemingways and friends at a cafe in Pamplona, Spain
Guest Reviewer: Helen Simonson on The Paris Wife

Helen Simonson is the New York Times bestselling author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. She was born in England and spent her teenage years in a small village in East Sussex. A graduate of the London School of Economics and former travel advertising executive, she has lived in America for the past two decades. After many years in Brooklyn, she now lives with her husband and two sons in the Washington, D.C., area.

Paula McLain has taken on the task of writing a story most of us probably think we already know--that of a doomed starter wife. To make life more difficult, McLain proposes to tell us about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson, who is a twenty-eight-year-old Midwestern spinster when she marries the twenty-one-year-old unpublished, (but already cocksure) writer and runs off to Paris with him. The talent and joy of this novel is that McLain does a startling job of making us understand this as a great love story and seducing us into caring deeply, about both Ernest and Hadley, as their marriage eventually comes apart.

This novel moves beyond the dry bones of biography or skewed personal vision of memoir, and takes a leap into the emotional lives of these characters. It is a leap of faith for those readers who think they know Hemingway, but McLain’s voice sticks close enough to historical material, and to the words and tone of Hemingway’s own writing, to be convincing. She had me at the description of young Hadley’s father committing suicide.

“The carpets had been cleaned but not changed out for new, the revolver had been emptied and polished and placed back in his desk.”

Hadley is also crippled by a childhood fall and trapped into spinsterhood by her mother’s declining health and eventual death. By the time she meets Hemingway, we are rooting for her to make a break for foreign shores--even as we understand the danger of marrying a tempestuous man. Hemingway is all nervous purpose, ambition and charisma as he meets Hadley and is drawn to her quiet strength and ordinary American sweetness. In his youth and uncertainty, she is his rock and yet we already suspect that as he grows in artistic power, she will become an unwanted anchor. Through Hadley’s eyes and plain-speaking voice, we see all of twenties Paris and the larger-than-life artists who gather in the cafes. We drink tea with Gertrude Stein and champagne with Fitzgerald and Zelda. We run with the bulls in Pamplona and spend winters in alpine chalets. And we see, through her love for him, the young writer becoming the Hemingway of legend. Perhaps it is the nature of all great artists to be completely selfish and obnoxious, but Hadley’s voice is always one of compassion. Even as Hemingway leaves her completely out of The Sun also Rises, even as Hemingway publicly flirts with other women, she continues to explain and defend him. It is a testament to Paula McLain that the reader is slow to dislike Hemingway, even as he slowly and inexorably betrays Hadley’s trust.

I loved this novel for its depiction of two passionate, yet humanly-flawed people struggling against impossible odds--poverty, artistic fervor, destructive friendships--to cling on to each other. I raise a toast to Paula McLain’s sure talent.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:20 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Meeting through mutual friends in Chicago, Hadley is intrigued by brash "beautiful boy" Ernest Hemingway, and after a brief courtship and small wedding, they take off for Paris, where Hadley makes a convincing transformation from an overprotected child to a game and brave young woman who puts up with impoverished living conditions and shattering loneliness to prop up her husband's career.… (more)

» see all 8 descriptions

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