Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Paris Wife

Author: Paula McLain
Goodreads rating: 3.72
My Rating: 4 Stars
Pages: 314
Reviewed by: Nicole

I've wanted to read this book since I last summer, but I'm not a huge fan of hardcover books, and so I didn't want to purchase it. I saw that I could get it on e-files this winter and so it was one of the first few books that I added to my list. I can't way I've ever read anything by Hemingway, but I couldn't wait to read it all the same.

Goodreads synopses:

A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wifecaptures 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 twenty-eight-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 on to 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.

My review after the jump.
I know, I know, I preached about giving authors a chance even if they aren't super nice people, but i don't think I could ever read a Hemingway book ever after reading this book. All I want to do is hate him and hit him for what he did to Hadley. I had to keep reminding myself that this was a different time and that it wasn't that easy to take your child and leave your husband.

The initial courtship between Hadley and Ernest was sweet, if not rushed. I think that she should have listened to her friend, Katie, who tried to warn her against rushing into a relationship with him. As I was reading this I wondered where he would be if he hadn't married Hadley, would he still be such a famous name? Would we even care who Hemingway was?

Hadley started to story off telling you that he had an affair, so you know thats coming. What you don't know or realize is how much more than an affair it was. The actual affair doesn't happen until the last hundred or so pages of the book, but there are moments where you suspect something is happening. Such as when they begin hanging out with Duff (a woman) and they go to Pamplona where he pens The Sun Also Rises.

I couldn't imagine being Hadley and realizing that he wrote you out of a book and then essentially being forced to live with your husbands mistress. I couldn't imagine what that would be like because the entire time I was reading it, I just kept getting mad and wanting to hit them both. There was a point where Hadley could have saved her marriage, but she let him walk all over her. 

The worst moment was when he suggested that they all move in together for good back in the states. That just made me so mad, and I could only imagine the hatred that Hadley felt for the situation. Her entire retelling is told from hindsight, so there are moments where you can tell its a new suspicion as its being told. What I also liked where the occasional chapter talking about Ernest and what he was doing whether it be while away from Hadley or what, but each of these highlights instances where he was unfaithful to her.

The reason that I gave this book a higher rating was because it made me feel. Some books can't do that they can't make you feel for the characters and root for them, but this book made me want Hadley to succeed and leave him, and find her strength. I found Ernest charming at some points but entirely selfish and conceited at other points. They were quirky together which made them work, but in the end, Ernest was unable to do anything for anyone but himself.

Even if you aren't familiar with Ernest Hemingway or his works, you don't have to be to read this books, but if you have read his early works like The Sun Also Rises, I imagine it would be interesting to get this other view of his life as he worked through writing it.

1 comment:

  1. I'm trying to remember my Henry's. Which Henry knew Falstaff in Shakespeare's plays? Henry IV??? None of them could be trusted, could they? From what I've read, Shakespeare took a "good" king--Richard III--and trashed him, right? Anyway, good review. Enjoyed it.



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