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 don't have much to add to the previous review. But the genre of fiction "based on" fact is an interesting one, probably challenging for the writer. What to leave in, what to leave out, etc. This book inspired me to research Hemingway for more details on his fantastic, adventurous life.
This could be the start of a possible series on the Hemingway wives and the transitions amongst them.
I enjoyed this novel immensely. The description of the characters and settings was wonderful. McLain paints a vivid picture of the literary scene in Paris after WWI, and how Ernest and Hadley Hemingway fit into it. After reading this fictionalized account of their lives together, I am anxious to read a biography of Hemingway to learn more about this man, as well as re-read some of his books.
I like others researched Hemingway's life while listening. I was truly moved by Hadley's plight and her strength! I thoroughly enjoyed the story and loved being swept away to Paris and their other travels.
The story is a but sad really. But the book is well written and compelling. Sometimes the narrator's voice for other characters is not the best but the book and the story are wonderful if you want to know more about this time in Paris, these writers and artists.
I like biographies, and this book was more like a biography than a novel to me. The author displayed some bright moments in the writing style in some descriptions. Otherwise, it didn't stir much emotion in the writing. What grated on me was nearly every conversation began or ended with "she said" "he said" "I said." I can't remember the author using other words that described *how* something was said. The narrator was the only clue to emotion. I still wasn't thrilled with the narrator. She did well enough for the most part; but during some conversations, the only way I could differentiated between the speakers was those dreaded words "she said" "I said" and yes, even "he said."
Before I read this book, I knew nothing about Ernest Hemingway's early adult life, and this was a great way to discover it. I particularly enjoyed the point of view from which the story is told (Hemingway's first wife) and thought the narrator's voice suited Hadley well. Early in the book, it was easy to understand the mutual attraction, and I realized that I too could have fallen in love with the young writer, so it was with dread that I recognized the early signs of his decline as the book progressed. This was a fascinating time in American literary history, and McLain did an excellent job of bringing it to life.
I'm the author of the book "Bronx DA" and an attorney.
I was not very bothered by the narrator of this book, but I was bothered by the superficial nature of the story and the characters. I never felt like I got to know or care about the people in this book or what happened to them. It all felt very superficial. The book was trying to be something that didn't quite succeed - like it was trying to be a Gatsby but missed the mark - for me, by a lot.
In reading the other reviews, I wonder if I would have felt differently had I read the book and not listened to it. I did not feel like the narrator was that bad but perhaps her reading of the book gave it the superficial feel, but I don't think so. Unlike another reviewer, I did not feel like Hadley was strong or interesting or that I even was able to sympathize with her plight.
In fact, by the end of the book, I did not feel like I knew her, or Hemingway or anyone else at all.
What the book did accomplish was making me want to go back and read The Sun Also Rises - I hope that reading the book that Hemingway wrote about this same time period will tell me a lot more about the characters than Paula McLain did.
Echoing what's been said before, the narration unfortunately ruins the book. If you know the story of Hadley and Hem, it's fraught with melancholy that simply can't be communicated by the narrator. Most of her sentences end with a slight raising of the voice, making each line sound as if it's completely shocking and possibly the punchline of terrible joke. It reminds me of the way a mother would read to a child - over-animated and juvenile. This is coupled with what I think of as a "Connecticut Boarding School" tone of voice that is very affected. The story is good, but almost impossible to enjoy in this format.
Marriage to Ernest Hemingway would be the ultimate challenge. Combine his personality and restleness with Hadley's insecurities and dependency is to realize there can be nothing other than a turmulous outcome. Their relationship was not fun to read about but hearing about the people ( Stein, Pound, Fitzgeralds) living in Paris at the same time makes this book.
It was a book club book. I don't think I would have finished it if it were a printed book. I personally am not a Heminway fan and the foreshadowing is a little heavy in this book. (
if they want a glimpse of what Hemingway's life was like in the early years then yes, but otherwise no, especially if you don't like bull fighting which I detest.
Ok but not riveting. Needs to learn Spanish pronunciation.
I would rent the DVD so I could skip the bull fighting.
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