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The Paris Wife: A Novel | [Paula McLain]

The Paris Wife: A Novel

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet 28eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.
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Audible Editor Reviews

If what they say is true — that behind every great man there’s a great woman — then Hadley Richardson is the woman behind Ernest Hemingway. In the novel The Paris Wife, Paula McLain traces their relationship from its frowned-upon beginnings in Chicago to its painful end in Paris six years later, and narrator Carrington MacDuffie brings a cast of historical characters out of the required reading list and brightly to life.

Hemingway was a journalist and aspiring novelist when he met Hadley in 1920, and after they married, they moved together to Paris at the urging of author Sherwood Anderson, who told them it was the place to be for writers. Over the next half-decade — except for one brief stint in Toronto after the birth of their son — the Hemingways lived, loved, and drank with everyone from James Joyce and Gertrude Stein to Ezra Pound and Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (all of whom MacDuffie voices captivatingly). But though their relationship seemed rock-solid to even the closest members of their inner circle, outside forces slowly chipped away at the life they’d built together.

Hemingway spent the whole of his marriage to Hadley working on his novels — including some early drafts of the Nick Adams stories and the piece that would become The Sun Also Rises — and The Paris Wife lets the twin plots of his career and their marriage unfold. Hadley, who narrates much of the book, is a reliable and relatable character, and MacDuffie gives her the range of maturity, emotion, and strength that she undoubtedly had. The Hemingway connection may draw in curious fans and avid literature buffs, but her gentle voice and easy manner will keep listeners hooked. —Blythe Copeland

Publisher's Summary

A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife, Hadley.

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet 28-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises.

Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold onto her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.

A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.

©2011 Paula Mclain (P)2011 Random House

What the Critics Say

"The Paris Wife is mesmerizing. Hadley Hemingway’s voice, lean and lyrical, kept me in my seat, unable to take my eyes and ears away from these young lovers. Paula McLain is a first-rate writer who creates a world you don’t want to leave. I loved this book." (Nancy Horan, New York Times best-selling author of Loving Frank)

"After nearly a century, there is a reason that the Lost Generation and Paris in the 1920’s still fascinate. It was a unique intersection of time and place, people and inspiration, romance and intrigue, betrayal and tragedy. The Paris Wife brings that era to life through the eyes of Hadley Richardson Hemingway, who steps out of the shadows as the first wife of Ernest, and into the reader’s mind, as beautiful and as luminous as those extraordinary days in Paris after the Great War." (Mary Chapin Carpenter, singer and songwriter)

"McLain offers a vivid addition to the complex-woman-behind-the-legendary-man genre, bringing Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, to life.... The heart of the story - Ernest and Hadley's relationship--gets an honest reckoning, most notably the waves of elation and despair that pull them apart." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    Claudette Santa Fe, NM, United States 07-17-11
    Claudette Santa Fe, NM, United States 07-17-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    8
    4
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    "Where's Hadley?"

    I got so tired of this audiobook by 3/4 of the way for one sad reason: the hole in the middle of it where the central character should be. In the author's rendition (and the narrator's cartoony voice) Hadley Richardson comes across as mousey, bland, passive, nearly invisible.

    Friends in my book group raised the question: Was that simply how she was? I doubt it. Hemingway's own account of her in "A Moveable Feast" conveys a woman he loved dearly and trusted as a peer (until he lost his rudder in the storms of fame, at least). I suspect she was a much more lively, independent-minded woman than McClain portrays - but if she really was such a passive mouse, she makes an odd choice for the central character of a novel. The insights I wanted into the woman who was Hemingway's first and arguably deepest love, who loved him long before he was famous and long after, are unfortunately few and thin.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Merrianne NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA, United States 07-15-11
    Merrianne NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA, United States 07-15-11 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    33
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "An amazing love story"

    This book had such a great love story. The imagery created by the author is outstanding. I found myself completely involved in the book and recommending it to anyone who love a good romance or history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E.JAMES and Helen CHICAGO, IL. USA 07-13-11
    E.JAMES and Helen CHICAGO, IL. USA 07-13-11 Member Since 2008
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    224
    2
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    Performance
    Story
    "The Paris Wife: a novel"

    Two associates suggested this book--a big disapppointment; read the real thing instead---Hemingway or AE Hochtner

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy United States 07-12-11
    Amy United States 07-12-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
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    37
    5
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    "Loved the narrator"

    The narrator does a fabulous job of taking you through the story. I enjoyed this as my on the go, on the treadmill, cleaning up around the house book, but it's so much more than that. I will suggest it for my book club. I'm dying to talk about it with someone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anna Santa Fe, NM, United States 07-03-11
    Anna Santa Fe, NM, United States 07-03-11 Member Since 2010

    twin oaks

    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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    22
    7
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    "Shallow"

    This book will only suit those prone to self-pity.... It's shallow and easy....

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    April Novato, CA, United States 06-25-11
    April Novato, CA, United States 06-25-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    "narrator is bad story is boring"

    If you want a story that is one big alcoholic romp... and a boring love story. then listen to this book. I was bored to death!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    amanda APO, AP, United States 06-17-11
    amanda APO, AP, United States 06-17-11 Member Since 2011
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    4
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    "Excellent"

    This is a wonderfully written book, and the narrator is perfect, she's does all the characters beautifully. It starts out a bit slow, but stick with it, because after a while, you don't want to stop listening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    julie Corvallis, OR, United States 06-10-11
    julie Corvallis, OR, United States 06-10-11 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wouldn't Purchase"

    Not well read...irritating...yawn.
    I didn't read reviews...I was in a rush. Don't judge a book on it's cover.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AnnHuch Oakland, CA 05-27-11
    AnnHuch Oakland, CA 05-27-11
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    64
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    "Wonderful"

    I loved everything about this book. The narration was great and the story is truly interesting and riveting. Great listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie Macomb, MI, United States 05-25-11
    Julie Macomb, MI, United States 05-25-11

    Mommy of Pookies

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "A Hemingway fan and a Wife"

    I am a huge Hemingway fan and my favorite is A Sun Also Rises. I listened to the audio book A Sun Also Rises and this immediatly after and that made is much more interesting. I loved finding out where the character Brett came from, how Hadley felt not being part of the novel and how she was involved with Hemingway. I knew Hemingway was a womanizing drunk going into this, it was just interesting to hear how it effected her life. I did find the reader to be a little whiney, but I think that is what she was trying to get across. Very good listen!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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