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The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
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The Paris Wife

by Paula McLain

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 319 (next | show all)
This is a first person fictionalized narrative told from the perspective of Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley during the early years of his career. She was probably the ideal spouse for Hemingway. Quite a bit older than he was, she was so thick in body and mind and generally dim-witted that she posed no threat to his masculinity either physically or intellectually. We all know what happened after he hooked up with Gellhorn. The only mildly interesting thing about her was her ability to play the piano. Her family had a strain of mental illness and she liked to knock back the sauce as much as her husband. She pulled a few stunts that may have been deliberate such as loosing all his working manuscripts on a train and "accidentally" getting pregnant, of course she's not the first woman to ever do that. How she survived as long as she did among the most brilliant creative minds the twentieth century produced is surprising, but she was accepted and liked by them. Anyone who has experience the implosion of a marriage, especially where a third party is involved, will feel the hopeless grief and confusion. The Paris Wife is so well written and researched that as colorless as the main character is, she still has some appeal and is ultimately a survivor.. ( )
  varielle | Aug 3, 2018 |
rabck from Miss_Sunshine; historical fiction about Hemingway's first wife. They met in the US, but lived most of their short married life in Paris or other european locales, while Hemingway got his career as a writer off the ground. ( )
  nancynova | Aug 1, 2018 |
This is a very compelling fictionalized version of the relationship between Hadley Richardson and Ernest Hemingway. The story is narrated by Hadley and much research done by the author allows for some believable dialogue and descriptions of scenes in Paris, the Alps, Spain and the French Riviera.
Hadley and Ernest meet in Chicago in 1920. He had returned damaged from WW1 and is struggling to write about his wartime experiences. She returns to her family in St. Louis and the two develop a very loving relationship through correspondence. They marry in 1921 and move to Paris, live in near poverty conditions, develop friendships with the local literati including Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound.
Although they are both from wealthy and comfortable backgrounds they adapt a bohemian lifestyle. Lounging around cafes and drinking heavily becomes a daily routine. Hadley is eight years older than her husband and becomes his best critic, strongest supporter and loving wife. As Hemingway gradually becomes more successful, their circle of friends expands to include F Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, wealthy Americans Gerald and Sara Murphy, he distances himself from his mentor Gertrude Stein.
Annual visits to Pamplona provide the background story and the characters for his breakthrough novel “The sun also rises”. He skewers several friends by representing them in the book and neglects to include anyone resembling Hadley in the narrative.
She is very excited about the book but is hurt that everyone in their close circle is included except her.
Into this circle arrive Pauline and Jinny Pfeiffer, wealthy Americans. Pauline befriends Hadley first and then Ernest.
As Hadley watches her husband fall in love with Pauline, she begins to see the dissolution of their marriage. To Ernest, everyone around them is having affairs, Hadley tries to adapt but finally asks for a divorce. They remain in love with each other their entire lives but it becomes evident that Hadley is the stronger one in the relationship. ( )
  MaggieFlo | Jul 24, 2018 |
Just not interested in the story.
  ajlewis2 | Jul 11, 2018 |
Thoroughly enjoyed this glimpse into the lives of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. McLain caught the feel of 1920s Paris so perfectly, with all the romance and glamour and also the underside that makes me feel a bit queasy at times. Life with someone as driven and egotistical as Hemingway cannot have been easy, but McLain manages to make me understand why Hadley would have wanted to marry him and why she hung on so long after she absolutely should have been gone. I have had a copy of [b:A Moveable Feast|4631|A Moveable Feast|Ernest Hemingway|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1427463201s/4631.jpg|2459084] for a long time and never gotten to it...this has made me want to read it and get Hemingway's version of what life in 1920s Paris was for him.

There is something special about this time period, when great writers all seemed to converge on one spot, know one another intimately, and have some overwhelming connection despite the fact that some of them could barely afford a garret room and others swam in money. The post WWI exhilaration of living large seemed to envelope them all.

Pauline is the one character in this story that rancors my soul. I had to go online and research her...in hopes that she got what she deserved at the hands of this man. That he passed her off for another woman, and then another, was justice of a sort. She was the most despicable of women, one who cloys in friendship while stealing another's husband.

I am a fan of Hemingway's writing, although I have never thought that I would have had much respect for the man himself. This book did not change my view on that. In the end, Hadley escaped into a good life with a good man, apparently, and Hemingway continued to destroy himself and those around him. Hadley might have been Zelda had she not finally summoned the courage to step away and see what another life might be. I was happy for her. ( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 319 (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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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Paula McLainprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dinçer, YaseminTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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 10 descriptions

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