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Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain~★★★★

Author: Paula McLain
Title: The Paris Wife
Release Date: November 27, 2012
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Fiction

Book Cover: "Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old  who has all but given up on love and happiness---until she meets Ernest Hemingway. 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 Fitzgerald.
Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking, fast-living, and free-loving life of Jazz Age Paris. As Ernest struggles to find the voice that will become The Sun Also Rises, Hadley strives to hold on to her sense of self as her role as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Eventually they 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." 

Taryn's Review: As I began this book, I knew it wouldn't have a happy ending for Hemingway and Hadley as spouses from my previous readings. McLain, through Hadley, shared this knowledge very early in the book, so while reading one knows that terrible times are head for Hemingway and Hadley. Things seemed so damn good between the two characters that the question begs to be asked...how can things go amiss if love holds the two together?

The thing about love is that isn't a guarantee of fidelity in every relationship. Hemingway hurts Hadley, and it was sad to read how very maliciously he did it under the guise of being oh-so-hard-for-him, too, as he ran off to meet his mistress down the hall of a hotel.

Hadley's character was complex to me in the sense that I'm not sure she realized how very lopsided her relationship with Hemingway was from the beginning. It was always about Ernest, never Hadley. Sure, Ernest made her feel special at times, but he also made her feel awful. His ego always seemed to need inflating and if Hadley didn't do to his satisfaction, he simply found someone who would. It's a shame that Hadley was the one to see Hemingway through from impoverished wanna-be-published author to a literary star, yet he threw her away for the first shiny, pretty thing to give him attention.

I looked up Hadley after reading this book and it seems that McLain did a good job of sticking to the facts in her historical fiction, which I really appreciate. This is an example of good historical fiction!

Despite my love of Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms, I first learned about how volatile and horrible he could be toward women when I read about his relationship with Martha Gellhorn in Between the Sheets: The Literary Liaisons of Nine 20th-Century Women Writers. It makes me wonder if Hadley ever experienced some of the abuse that Gellhorn did.

Overall, I really enjoyed passing the time with this book. McLain is a pleasant writer and I would have no issues with picking up another book of hers to read. She presented the story in such a way that it retains its truths without being overdone by the fictional elements.

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