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
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
"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)
I enjoyed listening to this book and had no problem with the reader. In fact when it comes to the French language I love how the words sound. The story was interesting almost a back story to Ernest. Now, I'm listening to his books.
Charming story about Ernest Hemingway's first wife and their life in and around Paris prior to World War II.Great insights into Hemingway's character with a surpsrising ending (for me anyway).
The kind of book that stays with you long after.
Makes reading Hemingway now like looking in on an old friend.
I have to disagree with the other reviewers, I think the narrator is fine. After all, she can only work with the material she is given. I think the story is really interesting, but the writing is not so great. The imagery is trite and the dialogue feels stiff (especially the main character). The content of the book is what makes it a good listen.
Susan-discerning reader with limited attention span
I thought this was sort of biographical and true. I thought it was girly gibberish. Don't bother listening to it. I quit after 7 chapters. It was just boring.
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.
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.
Two associates suggested this book--a big disapppointment; read the real thing instead---Hemingway or AE Hochtner
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.
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!
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