The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife Book Cover The Paris Wife
Paula McLain

A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures the 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. 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 earn him a place in history and pours himself into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises, Hadley strives to hold on to her sense of self as her roles 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.

I have always been a history buff.  As silly as this sounds, I spent a lot of time at my local historical society as pre-teen and teen.  So it’s never shocking to me when I am drawn to books with a historical edge, even if it’s fictional.

The thing about The Paris Wife by Paula McClain is that even though it’s technically fiction, it’s based on real people, real events and the real story – with some caulk to fill in the cracks.

I should say that I entered this read with the bias of thoroughly disliking Ernest Hemingway.  I have never enjoyed his books (I await the hate-mail on that comment lol) and I found his behavior to his spouses and lovers deplorable.  He always struck me as an arrogant egomaniac, and this book confirmed that for me.

Now Hadley?  Well, she’s young and she’s clearly naive, but it’s really hard to like her either.  I spent the majority of this read trying to figure out who irked me more – and in the end, it was so difficult for me to get through that I nearly gave up…

But it never got better!

This book has no HEA, which is fine.  But it really felt like there was not even any closure for ANY of the characters.  I won’t specific, but to me, everyone lost out in the end.  And though that may be how things go in reality, the story just felt like it was going down hill from 2/3 of the way through – I gave up hope for this couple, and I don’t feel like I was far off.  I mean, we aren’t talking a Jude ending, but it ain’t great.

So, in the end, I say read at your own risk.  Let me know what you think.


No Responses

Add Comment

Professional ReaderReviews Published Challenge Participant