Monday, March 23, 2015

Read All About It: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

This book evoked a lot of different emotions in me. My main reaction was: Ernest Hemingway be cray cray. 

But first, here's the synopsis from Goodreads

"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."

What I Liked:

* This was a historical fiction, so while the people in the book were real, and some of the events did take place, the author did fictionalize some parts of Hadley and Ernest's relationship. But I did enjoy seeing a more vulnerable portrayal of Hemingway. Most people tend to think of him as a jerk, or a womanizer, or an alcoholic. And while he may very well have been those things, the author breathes sensitivity and emotion into him. You can feel his complexity and his conflicted nature come through very clearly. 

* I liked reading about Hemingway's writing process and how focused and dedicated he was when he was writing a book. I can relate, though, not to the same degree. 

* I liked that Hadley was willing to try and keep her marriage together even though it was most definitely falling apart. You could tell that even though he hurt her very deeply, she still loved him and still held out hope that their marriage could be repaired. I admired that about her - to a point. 

* While I don't condone bullfighting, I did enjoy the imagery that the author used to paint the scenes for us when Hadley and Ernest were in Spain. I can understand why bullfighting appealed to Hemingway - the machismo, the blood, the cheering crowd. 

What I Didn't Like:

* OK, so I know I said that I admired Hadley for trying to keep her marriage together. Well, that's true. BUT there comes a point when you need to cut your losses and move on. Ernest was not faithful to her towards the end of their marriage. Not only that, but his mistress was one of his wife's "friends". And the mistress at one point climbs into bed with them and Hadley pretends to be asleep (?!?!?!?!!?). I'm sorry, but I would have certainly been arrested in that situation because there's no way I would let that happen while I'm in the freaking room. I really wished Hadley would have had enough of a backbone to say - enough is enough! And maybe punched the woman in the face a few times. 

* Ernest and his mistress actually proposed to Hadley that they all move to the States together and live in the same house, one big happy family. Hadley FINALLY told him to go fly a kite. Too late, though, in my opinion. 

* Hadley and Ernest had a son together. But throughout most of the book, they are traipsing all over Europe and the son is pawned off on various housekeepers, nannies, and friends. That really bothered me. Hadley really wanted to have a child and kept saying how important he was to her, and then she'd leave him for months at a time to go sit in cafes and listen to Ernest talking to other authors. Really? 

Favorite Quotes:

* "Not everyone out in a storm wants to be saved."

* "But in the end, fighting for a love that was already gone felt like trying to live in the ruins of a lost city."

* "Men hear what they like and invent the rest."  [Amen. ;)]

My Rating:

* 4 out of 5 stars

Have you read The Paris Wife? If so, share your thoughts! Or if not, what are you reading now? I want to hear all about it!

P.S. This week's prompt for Write or Die Wednesdays is: A Day in the Life. Come share with us what your typical day is like. Use any format you wish for your post. Happy writing! 


  1. This isn't my normal type of book, but it sounds pretty good!

  2. Why do you keep making my list grow, woman!!
    I like Hemingway, I remember thinking he was such a badass in my high school Honors English class. Later on, in my adult life, I watched some sort of documentary that made feel kind of bad for him. The drinking.
    I will have to check this one out for sure, thanks.

  3. I still can't decide if I want to read this book. Is it possible that a book sounds like one you would really love and one that you wouldn't particularly like? That's what this book sounds like to me. :) After your review, I'm leaning more towards reading it, though.

  4. I loved the Paris Wife, though I agree that Hadley got to me after awhile; have a little bit of pride woman! The descriptions in the book were just amazing and I couldn't put it down!

  5. I really enjoyed it. But I'm a big Hemingway fan (of his writing, anyway) lol, so it was super interesting to me. I can send it to you, if you want to read it. Let me know. :)

  6. Lol, it's my job to make you read 24/7. OK, maybe that's a stretch. hehe. Yes, I agree - he was pretty badass. And tortured.

  7. Haha, yes, I know exactly what you mean. The book evokes a lot of different emotions in me, some bad, some good. But overall, I did really like it. :) If you decide to read it, you'll have to let me know what you think! xo

  8. Yes, exactly. I think it would have been a much different story if Hadley had put a stop to a lot of his drama. I agree - I couldn't put it down either!


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