March 31, 2011

The Paris Wife - Paula McLain

I did not know much about Ernest Hemingway apart from the legends and I have never read any of his books so I came to The Paris Wife with a little bit of a blank slate - although I have to say my feminist ideals soon kicked in!

The Paris Wife is a fictionalised account of Hemingway's relationship with his first wife, Hadley Richardson whom he met in the United States as a young man and ended up moving to Paris with soon after their marriage.

The book is told mainly from the perspective of Hadley although there are a few small sections where Hemingway's voice speaks for himself.

Ernest and Hadley move to Paris in the early 1920's - the "Jazz Age" and they meet and befriend people such as Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Hemingway's obsession with his writing is evident from early on but it soon starts to intrude heavily on the marriage and we are able to see how it might have been for an intelligent, independent woman such as Hadley - as her wishes and needs always seemed to come second to the great author (although at that stage Hemingway was still establishing himself as the writer he would come to be known as).

I really enjoyed this book - I thought it was told in a way that captured my attention and kept it - it wasn't a book I wanted to be away from for long. And although my compassion tends to lean all the way in Hadley's direction in regards to the relationship between herself and Ernest I am very interested now in finding some of his novels and reading them for myself.


Astrid (Mrs.B) said...

I loved Hemmingway's The Sun Also Rises and A Moveable Feast which had accounts of his life with Hadley. I've had my eye on this book so good to know you enjoyed it.

Audra said...

I'm pretty interested in reading this book -- I like Hemingway enough but I think he's a bit of a jerk -- I'm an enormous fan of his (fourth?) wife Martha Gellhorn. Since you liked it, I'm keeping it on my TBR to tackle this fall!

Unknown said...

I've been wanting to read this one for awhile and your review just makes it sound better. 2 Kids and Tired Books

Marg said...

I've looked at this book a few times now! I might need to add it to my TBR pile.

Nadia said...

I have this book on my nightstand, but have yet to read it. After reading your post, I don't know what I'm waiting for - it sounds like such an interesting read. I've also heard that you should read A Moveable Feast in conjunction with this one. Great post!

Tracey said...

I hadn't heard of this book but really like the sound of it. A Moveable Feast has been on my library radar for a while but I haven't come across a copy of it yet. Definitely keeping an eye out for both now - thanks for your review, glad you like it.

Karen said...

Hi Mrs B - I hope that as a fan of Heminway's writing you enjoy this one as much as I did.

Hi Audra - That is pretty much the opinion I have had of him too!

Hi Holly - I hope you can get to it soon!

Hi Marg - I hope you decide to give it a a go.

Hi Nadia - I think I will make A Moveable Feast my first Hemingway read.

Hi Tracey - I hope you find a copy of this one soon.

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