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)
Drawing in part upon The Sun Also Rises and other Hemingway books and stories, the author creates an enaging story about his youth and marriage to first wife Hadley, from her point of view. Great sense of place, not only in Paris but also other locations in France and in Spain.
I found this book stunningly "girly". My wife loved it. I quit halfway through. I had hoped to learn more about EH. It was much too much, "how girls chase boys", for my taste.
It was interesting reading about the early years of Hemingway and his first wife. The author gave a great description of the characters and the era. How true it was, I don't know, but it did hold my interest. It made me want to explore Hemingway's works.
This is a compelling story of Ernest Hemingway's relationship with his first wife, Hadley. The author invites the reader into the psyche of each of the characters in this fascinating account of life in Paris in the 20's.
As read by the narrator, poor Hadley comes across as whiney, juvenile and someone I wouldn't wish on anyone--even E. Hemingway. Her "true and brave" statements were delivered in a Shirley Temple-esque style. Cute in a young child but from an adult? I have a feeling the narrator is the reason I ended the book with little sympathy for Hadley, but I'll need to wait awhile before I buy the book to confirm.
I am a huge fan of Hemingway's, and I've always been fascinated by his first wife, Hadley. I liked this book, but I agree with another reviewer -- I wish I had read it rather than listened to it. The written dialogue is fine, but the narrator reads Hadley's lines as if she were a simpering, airheaded Betty Boop at times. And her imitation of Ernest himself sounds like a kid trying to sound like her father. Very distracting.
Say something about yourself!
It's not just the reader. These characters do not come alive. Even Gertrude Stein & Alice B Toklas are boring. So are Paris, Ernest Hemingway, and for sure Hadley Richardson. I'm disappointed.
Get rid of the Paula McLain.
No, I will avoid it.
Maybe I'd like to look into Ernest Hemmingway's or F Scott Fitzgerald's autobiography.
I found the book boring in places. I really got tired of Paula McLain saying
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