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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

3.8 (1878 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Pris 03-04-11
    Pris 03-04-11 Member Since 2006
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    "Delighted in Del Mar"

    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.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rockie Mentone, AL, United States 01-16-12
    Rockie Mentone, AL, United States 01-16-12

    Alpaca farmer, gardener, poet. Loves reading & listening to books, music, writing, and learning. Life is good!

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    "Rewarding use of a credit"

    I loved this book. It gave the other side of the story to Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast." I would recommend reading (or listening) to Hemingway's book first, then listen to this one. It fills in a lot of blanks and gives more detail to what their life might have been like during the Paris years. .This story gave a life-like depiction of Hemingway (warts and all) and the writer he was through the eyes of the woman closest to him.
    I wasn't sure about the narrator at first, but I quckly got used to her voice, and before long, it seemed as if I were listening to Hadley herself tell her story, and the narration of the other characters being as Hadley would have heard and imitated them. I just may listen to this one again someday.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leah Oakland, CA, United States 04-04-11
    Leah Oakland, CA, United States 04-04-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Like you're living in the moment"

    I just listened to this and really enjoyed it. The story is both sweet and bitter. The narrator is very good. I really got the feeling for the crowd, the time, the life of the Hemmingway's and their friends. it's a nice, easy read, pretty easy to keep track of all the characters. I recommend listening.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen De Pere, WI, United States 03-08-11
    Ellen De Pere, WI, United States 03-08-11 Member Since 2006
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    "Good book, not so good reader"

    As a fan of Ernest Hemingway, I was really looking forward to this book. Several chapters in, I realized that I was not enjoying it. I soon realized that it was not the book itself, but the reader that was getting in my way. Carrington MacDuffie reads this book with a cultured tone that softens the edges of Ernest and his macho friends, and gives a simpering, whiney tone to Hadley. I wish I had chosen to read the book instead.

    29 of 32 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frances Chicago, IL, United States 04-03-11
    Frances Chicago, IL, United States 04-03-11 Member Since 2007
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    "Loved it!!"

    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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    glamazon The Coast of Rhode Island 03-07-11
    glamazon The Coast of Rhode Island 03-07-11 Member Since 2003

    glam

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    "Excellent listen!"

    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.

    20 of 22 people found this review helpful
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    Karla Eugene, OR, United States 01-12-12
    Karla Eugene, OR, United States 01-12-12 Member Since 2004
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    "Couldn't get past the reader"

    Is this a good book? I'm struggling to decide if I liked it or not. The reader really ruined it for me. She made the characters sound like cartoon characters in a goofy sitcom. Her attempts to sound masculine made me cringe. Perhaps she would be more suited to reading humor or juvenile fiction. I found myself trying to imagine the words read differently...more what I think the author intended, so that I could enjoy the story more. And this was very distracting. I really enjoy reading historical fiction, but I'm not sure if this is one to recommend. Was it as empty and flat as it seemed? Maybe. It kept going through my mind that I was reading fluff, but it could have been the reader that gave me that impression.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
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    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 07-07-12
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 07-07-12 Member Since 2005

    Addicted to Audible!

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    "overrated"

    I first tried the book version of Paris Wife and could not get into it. Since I had to "read" it for my bookclub I decided to try audible. I saw the negative reviews on the narrator but forged ahead anyway. I agree that she was hard to listen to, but I couldn't read the hard copy either, so it wasnt the reader that made it intolerable for me. What is it that has made this book so popular? I guess it is just the fascination with Hemingway and the time period. I enjoyed the movie, Midnight in Paris, so I thought I would enjoy this. Instead I found it boring, boring and more boring. I couldn't listen past the first 4 hrs. I tried but it was a waste of time. I just couldn't like or empathize with any of the characters, they were all self-indulgent elitist snobs who acted like spoiled children. I am sure most people will not agree with me, but I really disliked this book.

    17 of 19 people found this review helpful
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    jane Pittsburgh, PA, United States 03-23-11
    jane Pittsburgh, PA, United States 03-23-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Good Story - Poor Reader"

    Excellent fictional insight - terrible reader. I went out and bought the book in lieu of listening past Chapter 4. A wasted credit.

    29 of 33 people found this review helpful
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    Mieka Strawhorn El Cerrito, Ca 04-13-11
    Mieka Strawhorn El Cerrito, Ca 04-13-11 Member Since 2006

    babychoby

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    "Good book, terrible narration"

    Like others have noted, I was distracted from narrative by the prissy and juvenile tone that MacDuffie imparted. I found myself rethinking the lines as she spoke them with how I might have actually read the lines myself. It was like listening to two books simultaneously. I'll stay away from this narrator in the future but not the author.

    15 of 17 people found this review helpful
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