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Editorial 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

Critic Reviews

"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)

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  • Paul
  • evanston, IL, USA
  • 04-22-12

Narration is disappointing.

The narration of The Paris Wife was so disappointing and annoying. The narrator seems too old for the part of Hadley. And she reads with such a prissy tone that it is hard to imagine Hadley as the free spirit that Hemenway fell in love with. There is nothing sensual about Carrington's Hadley. And the way she portrays Hemenway, he appears to be Hadley's father, not her lover.


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If you like creative non-fiction, you'll like this

What disappointed you about The Paris Wife?

This is more creative non-fiction than a novel, in my opinion.

Has The Paris Wife turned you off from other books in this genre?

Yes, I'll be more wary of historical "fiction"

Which character ??? as performed by Carrington MacDuffie ??? was your favorite?

Hemingway

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Sadness

Any additional comments?

It's interesting to learn more about Hemingway's life, but that's the best of this.

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  • Lorraine
  • Bernardsville, NJ, United States
  • 04-06-12

Eh. Decent listen.

It wasn't a bad listen, but it wasn't a great listen either. The narrators voice made the main character seem somewhat whiny and annoying, but maybe that was the intent. It was a somewhat entertaining story and interesting, and while it didn't disappoint there was something missing. If you like historical fiction, you will probably enjoy it. If you like fast paced reads, this is probably not for you.

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Excellent

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. Great story, enjoyable, insightful, honest and real. I lived and felt Hadley and Ernest's relationship and learned more about life in the process. I don't want more from a novel.

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Terrific Listen

If you could sum up The Paris Wife in three words, what would they be?

Love, sacrifice, determination

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Paris Wife?

When Hadaly let go of her marriage.

Have you listened to any of Carrington MacDuffie’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Her voice was amazing and sensitive. The building of characters made them real right in front of my eyes.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Knowing she would love him her whole life and letting him go anyway - courage and self-will.

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I thought I knew Hemmingway.......

Would you listen to The Paris Wife again? Why?

What a fabulous insight into this complicated man. The character

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Paris Wife?

The revelation of the shallowness of Hemingway in regard to others in his life.<br/>His singular focus on himself must have caused his depression. It left him <br/>hollow, empty. So sad.

What does Carrington MacDuffie bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The narration is quite simply, PERFECT! The voice of Hadley makes all the difference,<br/>The emotion is so moving.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

YES! but I couldn't.

Any additional comments?

Fabulous shot of history from a different angle.

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Distracting Narration

Any additional comments?

I think it is probably an interesting book, but the narrator is terribly distracting and doesn't do justice to the story.

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Simple minded writing, not a great reader

Would you consider the audio edition of The Paris Wife to be better than the print version?

No.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I didn't really have a favorite character in the book--I didn't really get interested in them because there was little depth to them.

Did Carrington MacDuffie do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

I'm not a big fan of her rather pleading voice. I have heard her before.

Who was the most memorable character of The Paris Wife and why?

Hemingway's wife--the main character and the focus of the story. Why? Because she put up with him!

Any additional comments?

I stuck it out until the end, but the whole thing was pretty much a bore and a waste of time. I wouldn't recommend it.

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Great read!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend it to someone who is interested in turn of the century novels. Great Gatsbyesque.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Paris Wife?

The death of hadley's parents.

Which scene was your favorite?

When they made love before the wedding.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes. I love listening to books while cook. Poured myself a glass of wine and baked some zucchini bread, followed by some fritters and spaghetti Filipino style :)

Any additional comments?

Hadley herself is quite nondescript but everyone else brings the book alive.

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Mildly Enlightening

This book was worth reading, but it won't stand out in my mind for the future. Learning what happens in the real world of standard artists is interesting to me. So if you like that too, and you like to compare the historical realities of former times to what is current, this is good.