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The Paris Wife: A Novel by Paula McLain

The Paris Wife: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Paula McLain

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5,0763501,570 (3.7)360
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)
Title:The Paris Wife: A Novel
Authors:Paula McLain
Info:Ballantine Books (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Paris Wife by Paula McLain


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» See also 360 mentions

English (342)  German (3)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (349)
Showing 1-5 of 342 (next | show all)
E. Hemmingway first wife . ( )
  pgabj | May 7, 2021 |
Really enjoyed the trip back to 1920's Paris. ( )
  FurbyKirby | Jan 5, 2021 |
Before Ernest Hemmingway was the famous author of hie time he was a struggling writer, trying to figure out how to make ends meet, trying to find his voice. In the 1920s he meets Hadley Richardson in Chicago and after a whirlwind, and often long-distance, romance they marry and move to Paris. Paris is the city to be in for the new emerging modernist writers, from Joyce to Stein, anyone who is anyone spends a considerable amount of time in Paris. There, Ernest is convinced, he can find his voice and write. Hadley is content to go wherever Ernest will be happy, she will support and look after him through all his struggles.
I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by Ernest Hemmingway, all I know about him before this book was that he was a big-game hunter, into bullfights and drinking. That he was a typical “white macho author”, or a bit of an asshole.

Well, this book certainly confirmed that impression. He was utterly unlikeable. I’m not saying that I didn’t feel some sympathy for him, all he went through in the war, and he obviously had some depression issues, but you know what, so what. He was utterly horrible to Hadley, even when he was supposed to be utterly in love with her.

And Hadley herself, good lord she was such a weak character throughout the book. I just couldn’t like her, by the end she had grown a little, but that was almost after the story told in the book. Throughout the novel she was a drip. I didn’t get why Ernest loved her. And I certainly didn’t understand why she loved him.

The overall opinion I formed about Hemmingway through this book is that he was a weak and insecure individual who made himself feel like a big man by insulting everyone around him and putting them down.

The book did succeed, however, in making more curious about Hemmingway himself, and I could even see myself trying to read one of his books at some point. I do recall picking up The sun also rises at some point1 but I think I was 13 or 14. I didn’t make it past the first chapter.

I’m not sure I would have stuck with this one if it wasn’t a book club read. It redeemed itself a little in the final chapter or so, but not enough for me to say I enjoyed the book at all. I’m sure McLain did plenty of research but I think that comes across more than the story, and for me, when I’m reading a fictional story I want to be able to empathise with at least one of the characters, even if I disagree with them. Here I was just annoyed and frustrated by the pair. ( )
  Fence | Jan 5, 2021 |
I had a hard time connecting with Hadley and a hard time getting through this book. It didn't move. I felt like I was reading the same story for 2/3 of it: they drink, she worries and has no self esteem or drive, he wrecks some friendship/relationship. Over and over and over. Blah. ( )
  pmichaud | Dec 21, 2020 |
This is a difficult book for me to rate.

In terms of the story, it's one of the oldest cliches in the book, so to speak: young writer marries woman who gives up her life and identity to support his career; he becomes famous and leaves her for a more image-conscious woman who fits his new vision of himself. The interesting part is that the young writer is Ernest Hemingway, and the narrator is his poor first wife, Hadley Richardson. You meet them, and all their friends: Gertrude Stein; F. Scott Fitzgerald and his "golden girl," Zelda; Ezra Pound; John Dos Passos; and so on. You learn that The Sun Also Rises was based entirely on a true story, except that Hemingway wrote his wife out of it, then gave her all the royalties.

In terms of the writing, on one hand, there is some very good writing here, including some top-notch Hemingway imitations. On the other hand, there are some really tired cliches, and a lot of "he said," "she said." Hadley is an an exasperating Pollyanna at times: was she really that trite, or is this a weakness on Paula McClain's part? Hard to say, but frustrating to listen to.

At any rate, if you are interested in Hemingway's Paris life, you will enjoy at least parts of The Paris Wife. ( )
  stephkaye | Dec 14, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 342 (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...

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Paula McLainprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bastide-Foltz, SophieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dinçer, YaseminTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Though I often looked for one, I finally had to admit that there could be no cure for Paris.
He wanted everything there was to have, and more than that.
We had the best of each other.
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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.

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