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The Paris Wife
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The Paris Wife

3.9 912
by Paula McLain

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A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures 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


A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures 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.

Editorial Reviews

Ernest Hemingway was born on July 21st one hundred and twelve years ago, in 1899. If those numbers seem to suggest he’s a relic, think again. This year alone, he's the subject of my novel, The Paris Wife, an HBO biopic in production, Hemingway and Gelhorn, about his stormy third marriage (Clive Owen will play Hemingway opposite Nicole Kidman; James Gandolfini produces), and Midnight in Paris, a feature film by Woody Allen, which opened the Cannes Film Festival in April and is currently charming audiences nationwide. In it, Gil Pender is a Hollywood screenwriter visiting Paris who is somehow magically transported to the 1920’s version of the City of Lights—the Golden Age that has always fascinated him. He ends up hobnobbing with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, Pablo Picasso, Salvidor Dali, Man Ray, T.S. Eliot—and Hemingway, of course, who offers to show Gil’s novel-in-progress to Gertrude Stein, and advises him on the nature of truth, bravery and lovemaking.

Woody Allen's Hemingway is handsome and gruff, macho and bombastic. He talks like he writes, or talks as if he's writing as he's speaking. The effect is hilarious, which is precisely the point. Allen’s film is a comedy, and the simplest version of Hemingway is definitely the funniest. At one point he barks, "Who wants to fight?" to everyone and no one in particular. But even as I laughed, I found myself thinking, this isn't my Hemingway. After years spent researching his life and work, I do feel a proprietary interest in Hemingway, and have ultimately come to believe that the real man was infinitely complex, with "more sides to him than any geometry book could ever chart," as his first wife Hadley once said.

The most delicious element of Allen's film is that it’s a time machine. We're there in the Jazz-Age, that singular time in history when writers and painters and composers rubbed against each other in the cafes, creating sparks that ricocheted through their work, and then through history. Gil Pender's time travel begins when he steps into a buttery Peugeot that transports him to a Parisian nightclub where Cole Porter is singing "Let's Fall in Love." Mine started in a micro-suede chair in my local Starbucks as I read Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. I fell into that world and didn't want to leave it. Who would?

I don’t think our collective love affair with 1920's Paris will ever be truly over—and this is partially due to Hemingway's gorgeous and indelible remembrances of that time. He's forever fixed there for us—just as he would have it, I'm sure.

Publishers Weekly
McLain (A Ticket to Ride) offers a vivid addition to the complex-woman-behind-the-legendary-man genre, bringing Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, to life. Meeting through mutual friends in Chicago, Hadley is intrigued by the brash "beautiful boy," and after a brief courtship and small wedding, Hadley and Ernest take off for Paris, "the place to be," according to Sherwood Anderson. McLain ably portrays the cultural icons of the 1920s—Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, and Ezra and Dorothy Pound—and the impact they have on the then unknown Hemingway, casting Hadley as a rock of Gibraltar for a troubled man whose brilliance and talent were charged and compromised by his astounding capacity for alcohol and women. Hadley, meanwhile, makes a convincing transformation from an overprotected child to a game and brave young woman who puts up with impoverished living conditions and shattering loneliness to prop up her husband's career. The historical figure cameos sometimes come across as gimmicky, but the heart of the story—Ernest and Hadley's relationship—gets an honest reckoning, most notably the waves of elation and despair that pull them apart. (Mar.)
Library Journal
A young Miss Hadley Richardson, with high spirits and lovely auburn hair, meets a handsome aspiring writer named Ernest Hemingway. They marry and make their way to Paris, living in a squalid apartment and spending time in café society with fellow expatriates Gertrude Stein, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, and Sylvia Beach. Though the post-World War I years offer a great deal of creative freedom for these idle Americans, self-indulgence is the code of the day. Will Hadley choose to step aside as literary success—and another woman—come to take their place in Ernest's life? In her second novel (following A Ticket To Ride), McLain creates a compelling, spellbinding portrait of a marriage. Hemingway is a magnetic figure whose charm is tempered by his dark, self-destructive tendencies. Hadley is strong and smart, but she questions herself at every turn. Women of all ages and situations will sympathize as they follow this seemingly charmed union to its inevitable demise. VERDICT Colorful details of the expat life in Jazz Age Paris, combined with the evocative story of the Hemingways' romance, result in a compelling story that will undoubtedly establish McLain as a writer of substance. Highly recommended for all readers of popular fiction. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/10.]—Susanne Wells, P.L. of Cincinnati & Hamilton Cty., OH
Donna Rifkind
The Paris Wife is a richer and more provocative book than many reviewers have acknowledged. What they call cliches are simply conventions that all historical novels share…And The Paris Wife is a more ambitious effort than just a Hallmark version of Americans in Paris. It's an imaginative homage to Hadley Richardson Hemingway, whose quiet support helped her young husband become a writer, and it gives readers a chance to see the person Hemingway aspired to be before fame turned him into something else.
—The Washington Post
From the Publisher
“McLain smartly explores Hadley's ambivalence about her role as supportive wife to a budding genius.... Women and book groups are going to eat up this novel.” —USA Today

“By making the ordinary come to life, McLain has written a beautiful portrait of being in Paris in the glittering 1920s — as a wife and one's own woman.... McLain's vivid, clear-voiced novel is a conjecture, an act of imaginary autobiography on the part of the author. Yet her biographical and geographical research is so deep, and her empathy for the real Hadley Richardson so forthright (without being intrusively femme partisan), that the account reads as very real indeed.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Written much in the style of Nancy Horan's Loving Frank ... Paula McLain's fictional account of Hemingway's first marriage beautifully captures the sense of despair and faint hope that pervaded the era and their marriage.” —Associated Press

“Lyrical and exhilarating.... McLain offers a raw and fresh look at the prolific Hemingway. In this mesmerizing and helluva-good-time novel, McLain inhabits Richardson’s voice and guides us from Chicago—Richardson and Hemingway’s initial stomping ground—to the place where their life together really begins: Paris.” —Elle.com

“McLain’s vivid account of the couple’s love affair and expat adventures will leave you feeling sad yet dazzled.” —Parade

“Told in the voice of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain, is a richly imagined portrait of bohemian 1920s Paris, and of America literature’s original bad boy.” —Town & Country

“Novelist and memoirist Paula McLain traces the life of Hadley Hemingway, first wife of Ernest Hemingway, in this evocative novel set largely in Paris in the Jazz Age.” —Christian Science Monitor

“McLain's novel not only gives Hadley a voice, but one that seems authentic and admirable.... A certain amount of bravery is required in writing a novel that channels a giant of American literature. Yet McLain pulls it off convincingly, conveying Hemingway's interior life and his profound struggles. She makes a compelling case that Hadley was a crucial (and long-lasting) influence on Hemingway's writing life: a partner as well as a cheerleader. She also revisits, with remarkable detail, a singular era in history, one that would produce some of the greatest literary works of the 20th century.” —Newsday

“Engrossing and heartbreaking.... McLain is masterful at mining Hadley's confusion and pain, her crushing realization that she cannot fight for a love that has already disappeared.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer

“A well-crafted novel ... Paula McLain is a master at creating narratives that are so lively, they seem to leap from the printed page.” —Tucson Citizen

“One of the most important books of this year. McLain is a novelist to watch.” —Naples Daily News

"The Paris Wife is mesmerizing. Hadley Hemingway’s voice, lean and lyrical, kept me in my seat, unable to take my eyes and ears away from these young lovers.  Paula McLain is a first-rate writer who creates a world you don’t want to leave. I loved this book."  —Nancy Horan, New York Times bestselling author of Loving Frank

"After nearly a century, there is a reason that the Lost Generation and Paris in the 1920’s still fascinate.   It was a unique intersection of time and place, people and inspiration, romance and intrigue, betrayal and tragedy.   The Paris Wife brings that era to life through the eyes of Hadley Richardson Hemingway, who steps out of the shadows as the first wife of Ernest, and into the reader’s mind, as beautiful and as luminous as those extraordinary days in Paris after the Great War."   —Mary Chapin Carpenter, singer and songwriter

“Despite all that has been written about Hemingway by others and by the man himself, the magic of The Paris Wife is that this Hemingway and this Paris, as imagined by Paula McLain, ring so true I felt as if I was eavesdropping on something new. As seen by the sure and steady eye of his first wife, Hadley, here is the spectacle of the man becoming the legend set against the bright jazzed heat of Paris in the 20s. As much about life and how we try and catch it as it is about love even as it vanishes, this is an utterly absorbing novel.” —Sarah Blake, New York Times bestselling author of The Postmistress

"McLain offers a vivid addition to the complex-woman-behind-the-legendary-man genre, bringing Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, to life.... The heart of the story—Ernest and Hadley's relationship—gets an honest reckoning, most notably the waves of elation and despair that pull them apart." —Publishers Weekly

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
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6.60(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt


The very first thing he does is fix me with those wonderfully brown eyes and say, "It's possible I'm too drunk to judge, but you might have something there."

It's October 1920 and jazz is everywhere. I don't know any jazz, so I'm playing Rachmaninoff. I can feel a flush beginning in my cheeks from the hard cider my dear pal Kate Smith has stuffed down me so I'll relax. I'm getting there, second by second. It starts in my fingers, warm and loose, and moves along my nerves, rounding through me. I haven't been drunk in over a year—not since my mother fell seriously ill—and I've missed the way it comes with its own perfect glove of fog, settling snugly and beautifully over my brain. I don't want to think and I don't want to feel, either, unless it's as simple as this beautiful boy's knee inches from mine.

The knee is nearly enough on its own, but there's a whole package of a man attached, tall and lean, with a lot of very dark hair and a dimple in his left cheek you could fall into. His friends call him Hemingstein, Oinbones, Bird, Nesto, Wemedge, anything they can dream up on the spot. He calls Kate Stut or Butstein (not very flattering!), and another fellow Little Fever, and yet another Horney or the Great Horned Article. He seems to know everyone, and everyone seems to know the same jokes and stories. They telegraph punch lines back and forth in code, lightning fast and wisecracking. I can't keep up, but I don't mind really. Being near these happy strangers is like a powerful transfusion of good cheer.

When Kate wanders over from the vicinity of the kitchen, he points his perfect chin at me and says, "What should we name our new friend?"

"Hash," Kate says.

"Hashedad's better," he says. "Hasovitch."

"And you're Bird?" I ask.

"Wem," Kate says.

"I'm the fellow who thinks someone should be dancing." He smiles with everything he's got, and in very short order, Kate's brother Kenley has kicked the living room carpet to one side and is manning the Victrola. We throw ourselves into it, dancing our way through a stack of records. He's not a natural, but his arms and legs are free in their joints, and I can tell that he likes being in his body. He's not the least shy about moving in on me either. In no time at all our hands are damp and clenched, our cheeks close enough that I can feel the very real heat of him. And that's when he finally tells me his name is Ernest.

"I'm thinking of giving it away, though. Ernest is so dull, and Hemingway? Who wants a Hemingway?"

Probably every girl between here and Michigan Avenue, I think, looking at my feet to keep from blushing. When I look up again, he has his brown eyes locked on me.

"Well? What do you think? Should I toss it out?"

"Maybe not just yet. You never know. A name like that could catch on, and where would you be if you'd ditched it?"

"Good point. I'll take it under consideration."

A slow number starts, and without asking, he reaches for my waist and scoops me toward his body, which is even better up close. His chest is solid and so are his arms. I rest my hands on them lightly as he backs me around the room, past Kenley cranking the Victrola with glee, past Kate giving us a long, curious look. I close my eyes and lean into Ernest, smelling bourbon and soap, tobacco and damp cotton—and everything about this moment is so sharp and lovely, I do something completely out of character and just let myself have it.


There's a song from that time by Nora Bayes called "Make Believe," which might have been the most lilting and persuasive treatise on self-delusion I'd ever heard. Nora Bayes was beautiful, and she sang with a trembling voice that told you she knew things about love. When she advised you to throw off all the old pain and worry and heartache and smile—well, you believed she'd done this herself. It wasn't a suggestion but a prescription. The song must have been a favorite of Kenley's, too. He played it three times the night I arrived in Chicago, and each time I felt it speaking directly to me: Make believe you are glad when you're sorry. Sunshine will follow the rain.

I'd had my share of rain. My mother's illness and death had weighed on me, but the years before had been heavy, too. I was only twenty-eight, and yet I'd been living like a spinster on the second floor of my older sister Fonnie's house while she and her husband Roland and their four dear beasts lived downstairs. I hadn't meant for things to stay this way. I assumed I'd get married or find a career like my school friends. They were harried young mothers now, schoolteachers or secretaries or aspiring ad writers, like Kate. Whatever they were, they were living their lives, out there doing it, making their mistakes. Somehow I'd gotten stuck along the way—long before my mother's illness—and I didn't know how to free myself exactly.

Sometimes, after playing an hour of passable Chopin, I'd lie down on the carpet in front of the piano and stare at the ceiling, feeling whatever energy I'd had while playing leave my body. It was terrible to feel so empty, as if I were nothing. Why couldn't I be happy? And just what was happiness anyway? Could you fake it, as Nora Bayes insisted? Could you force it like a spring bulb in your kitchen, or rub up against it at a party in Chicago and catch it like a cold?

Ernest Hemingway was still very much a stranger to me, but he seemed to do happiness all the way up and through. There wasn't any fear in him that I could see, just intensity and aliveness. His eyes sparked all over everything, all over me as he leaned back on his heel and spun me toward him. He tucked me fast against his chest, his breath warm on my neck and hair.

"How long have you known Stut?" he asked.

"We went to grade school together in St. Louis, at Mary Institute. What about you?"

"You want my whole educational pedigree? It's not much."

"No," I laughed. "Tell me about Kate."

"That would fill a book, and I'm not sure I'm the fellow to write it." His voice was light, still teasing, but he'd stopped smiling.

"What do you mean?"

"Nothing," he said. "The short and sweet part is our families both have summer cottages in Horton Bay. That's Michigan to a southerner like you."

"Funny that we both grew up with Kate."

"I was ten to her eighteen. Let's just say I was happy to grow up alongside her. With a nice view of the scenery."

"You had a crush, in other words."

"No, those are the right words," he said, then looked away.

I'd obviously touched some kind of nerve in him, and I didn't want to do it again. I liked him smiling and laughing and loose. In fact, my response to him was so powerful that I already knew I would do a lot to keep him happy. I changed the subject fast.

"Are you from Chicago?"

"Oak Park. That's right up the street."

"For a southerner like me."


"Well, you're a bang-up dancer, Oak Park."

"You too, St. Louis."

The song ended and we parted to catch our breath. I moved to one side of Kenley's long living room while Ernest was quickly swallowed up by admirers—women, naturally. They seemed awfully young and sure of themselves with their bobbed hair and brightly rouged cheeks. I was closer to a Victorian holdout than a flapper. My hair was still long, knotted at the nape of my neck, but it was a good rich auburn color, and though my dress wasn't up to the minute, my figure made up for that, I thought. In fact, I'd been feeling very good about the way I looked the whole time Ernest and I were dancing—he was so appreciative with those eyes!—but now that he was surrounded by vivacious women, my confidence was waning.

"You seemed awfully friendly with Nesto," Kate said, appearing at my elbow.

"Maybe. Can I have the rest of that?" I pointed to her drink.

"It's rather volcanic." She grimaced and passed it over.

"What is it?" I put my face to the rim of the glass, which was close enough. It smelled like rancid gasoline.

"Something homemade. Little Fever handed it to me in the kitchen. I'm not sure he didn't cook it up in his shoe."

Over against a long row of windows, Ernest began parading back and forth in a dark blue military cape someone had dug up. When he turned, the cape lifted and flared dramatically.

"That's quite a costume," I said.

"He's a war hero, didn't he tell you?"

I shook my head.

"I'm sure he'll get to it eventually." Her face didn't give anything away, but her voice had an edge.

"He told me he used to pine for you."

"Really?" There was the tone again. "He's clearly over it now."

I didn't know what had come between these two old friends, but whatever it was, it was obviously complicated and well under wraps. I let it drop.

"I like to think I'm the kind of girl who'll drink anything," I said, "but maybe not from a shoe."

"Right. Let's hunt something up." She smiled and flashed her green eyes at me, and became my Kate again, not grim at all, and off we went to get very drunk and very merry.

I found myself watching for Ernest the rest of the night, waiting for him to appear and stir things up, but he didn't. He must have slipped away at some point. One by one nearly everyone did, so that by 3:00 a.m. the party had been reduced to dregs, with Little Fever as the tragic centerpiece. He was passed out on the davenport with long dark wool socks stretched over his face and his hat perched on his crossed feet.

"To bed, to bed," Kate said with a yawn.

"Is that Shakespeare?"

"I don't know. Is it?" She hiccuped, and then laughed. "I'm off to my own little hovel now. Will you be all right here?"

"Of course. Kenley's made up a lovely room for me." I walked her to the door, and as she sidled into her coat, we made a date for lunch the next day.

"You'll have to tell me all about things at home. We haven't had a moment to talk about your mother. It must have been awful for you, poor creatch."

"Talking about it will only make me sad again," I said. "But this is perfect. Thanks for begging me to come."

"I worried you wouldn't."

"Me too. Fonnie said it was too soon."

"Yes, well, she would say that. Your sister can be smart about some things, Hash, but about you, nearly never."

I gave her a grateful smile and said good night. Kenley's apartment was warrenlike and full of boarders, but he'd given me a large and very clean room, with a four-poster bed and a bureau. I changed into my nightdress then took down my hair and brushed it, sorting through the highlights of the evening. No matter how much fun I'd had with Kate or how good it was to see her after all these years, I had to admit that number one on my list of memorable events was dancing with Ernest Hemingway. I could still feel his brown eyes and his electric, electrifying energy—but what had his attentions meant? Was he babysitting me, as Kate's old friend? Was he still gone on Kate? Was she in love with him? Would I even see him again?

My mind was suddenly such a hive of unanswerable questions that I had to smile at myself. Wasn't this exactly what I had wanted coming to Chicago, something new to think about? I turned to face the mirror over the bureau. Hadley Richardson was still there, with her auburn waves and thin lips and pale round eyes—but there was something new, too, a glimmer of potential. It was just possible the sun was on its way. In the meantime, I would hum Nora Bayes and do my damnedest to make believe.


The next morning, I walked into the kitchen to find Ernest leaning lazily against the refrigerator, reading the morning newspaper and devouring half a loaf of bread.

"Did you sleep here?" I asked, unable to mask my surprise at seeing him.

"I'm boarding here. Just for a while, until things take off for me."

"What do you mean to do?"

"Make literary history, I guess."

"Gee," I said, impressed all over again by his confidence and conviction. You couldn't fake that. "What are you working on now?"

He pulled a face. "Now I'm writing trash copy for Firestone tires, but I mean to write important stories or a novel. Maybe a book of poetry."

That threw me. "I thought poets were quiet and shrinking and afraid of sunlight," I said, sitting down.

"Not this one." He came over to join me at the table, turning his chair around to straddle it. "Who's your favorite writer?"

"Henry James, I suppose. I seem to read him over and over."

"Well, aren't you sweetly square?"

"Am I? Who's your favorite writer?"

"Ernest Hemingway." He grinned. "Anyway, there're lots of famous writers in Chicago. Kenley knows Sherwood Anderson. Heard of him?"

"Sure. He wrote Winesburg, Ohio."

"That's the one."

"Well, with your nerve, you can probably do anything at all."

He looked at me seriously, as if he were trying to gauge whether I was teasing or placating him. I wasn't. "How do you take your coffee, Hasovitch?" he finally said.

"Hot," I said, and he grinned his grin, elastic and devastating.

When Kate arrived for our lunch date, Ernest and I were still in the kitchen talking away. I hadn't yet changed out of my dressing gown, and there she was sharp and fresh in a red wool hat and coat.

"I'm sorry," I said, "I won't be a minute."

"Take your time, you deserve a little indolence," she said, but seemed impatient with me just the same.

I went off to dress, and when I came back, Kate was alone in the room.

"Where did Nesto run off to?"

"I haven't the faintest," Kate said. And then, because she clearly read disappointment in my face, "Should I have invited him along?"

"Don't be silly. This is our day."

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“A beautiful portrait of being in Paris in the glittering 1920s—as a wife and as one’s own woman.”—Entertainment Weekly

“[Paula] McLain has brought Hadley [Hemingway] to life in a novel that begins in a rush of early love. . . . A moving portrait of a woman slighted by history, a woman whose . . . story needed to be told.”—The Boston Globe

The Paris Wife creates the kind of out-of-body reading experience that dedicated book lovers yearn for, nearly as good as reading Hemingway for the first time—and it doesn’t get much better than that.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Exquisitely evocative . . . This absorbing, illuminating book gives us an intimate view of a sympathetic and perceptive woman, the striving writer she married, the glittering and wounding Paris circle they were part of. . . . McLain reinvents the story of Hadley and Ernest’s romance with the lucid grace of a practiced poet.”—The Seattle Times
“A novel that’s impossible to resist. It’s all here, and it all feels real.”—People

Meet the Author

Paula McLain received her M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Michigan and has been awarded fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the author of two collections of poetry; a memoir, Like Family: Growing Up in Other People’s Houses; and a first novel, A Ticket to Ride. She lives in Cleveland with her family.

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The Paris Wife 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 913 reviews.
GEORGIAMOON More than 1 year ago
The Paris Wife is the story of Ernest Hemingway's first of four marriages. It is told from Hadley Richardson's point of view. Hadley and Hemingway were married in 1921 and gave birth to his first son, John Hadley Nicanor "Jack" Hemingway in 1923. His nickname was "Bumby" and Mariel and Margaux Hemingway were his daughters. This is a wonderful read that gives us a new perspective of Ernest Hemingway's genius and life. This is a characterization of a flawed man through the eyes of his young, shy, pretty first wife. The Nobel Prize winning author appreciated the stability and grounding his wife had given him and later, after three other wives said of her..."I wish I had died before I loved anyone but her. She was the best and truest and loveliest person I have ever known." Those words made me tingle all over.
BookHounds More than 1 year ago
I was never a fan of Hemingway, but have always intrigued by his larger than life personality. Paula McLain has weaved a wondrous blend of fact and fiction to bring the story behind Hemingway's first wife and love Elizabeth Hadley Richardson. If you look at pictures of Hadley from her youth, you can see her looks very clearly in her granddaughters, Mariel and Margaux. I imagine she must have been stunning with an amazing personality and sense of humor to capture Hemingway's heart so thoroughly. McLain's theorizes these ideas fully in this fictional account of their romance based on letters, written accounts and Hemingway's story, The Sun Also Rises, based on his own experiences. This book is for anyone looking to revisit The Cafe Society in Paris during the 1920's. I got the feeling that while Hadley loved her husband dearly, she didn't really fit in with Cafe society since the lax morals didn't suit her upbringing. It is fascinating to read how she dealt with Hemingway's affairs and the fact that he brought his soon to be mistress, Pauline, into his home life. Hemingway must have been like a rock start in that world. It must have been amazing to live through such a time period. I am such a huge fan of books like this, that take fact and work out the details so a story can unfold. It reminded me of Loving Frank by Nancy Horan which I adored. It even makes me want to go back and reread Hemingway's work. Of course, this story couldn't have been written without the famous characters and it is a fascinating romantic tale. I received this book from the publisher at no expense in exchange for my honest review.
Elsie_Brooks More than 1 year ago
Paula McLain takes her reader on a voyeuristic journey into the dispair that haunted Hemingway. Through the voice of his first wife, Hadley,she shares the dark side of the much glorified bohemian lifestyle of American expatriates in Paris during the 1920s. McLain's writing has a beautiful simplicity. She creates for her reader a sense that she is Hadley and The Paris Wife is her memoir.
tennisjep More than 1 year ago
I liked The Paris Wife. It kept me reading and interested. It kept me questioning the characters as to what was fiction vs reality. We read this book for book club, and I feel we will have a lot to discuss. Hemingway was a difficult man. His self centeredness effected his relationships and thus he lost many a friend and lover. I would definitely recommend this book.
Tennhills More than 1 year ago
I found this book narrated by Hemingway's first wife to be fascinating. Although this book is historical fiction, there is a great deal of "truth" in it. It is a wonderful, easy reading way to learn more of Ernest Hemingway. I felt so sorry for his wife at times, and at other times I wanted her to get tougher! This is a great read.
enticed More than 1 year ago
I will admit that I did not know much about Hemingway prior to read this novel. Despite that, I found the subject matter to be very interesting - from Hemingway, to Hadley to their circle of friends and acquaintances. Not only did I greatly enjoy this book, but i am going to keep it.
ReadsalotGA More than 1 year ago
I was surprised how much I loved book. I hated for it to end and missed reading it everyday.
dicheeks More than 1 year ago
The author stays very true to documented stories and people in their lives at that time. I felt as though I was in the room with Hadley and Ernest and felt the love they had for each other and the heartbreak of the end of their marriage. The book has stayed with me for days after I have finished. What an interesting and bazaar time in history! This novel would be wonderful for a book club discussion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lovely novel with great insight as to life in Jazz Age Paris. You will easily be swept up into Ernest and Hadley's world and feel like you are there with them. Great book. Couldn't put it down. Well worth the time and money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I felt as if I was given a window to Paris in the 1920s. Although a heartbreaking story, I'm now inspired to read Hemingway's works.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to put down. Very interesting story on Hemingway's first wife (he had four) and what she put up with being married to him. Also includes bits about F. Scott Fitzerald and his wife, Zelda. After this book, I am more interested in reading more on the wifes of Hemingway. I read "Z" for Zelda Fitzerald following "The Paris Wife". Another, very good book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great love story of the 1920's. Earnest was portrayed just as i had imagined, and she was just as jilted as i had thought she would have been. GREAT READ.
ken-lee More than 1 year ago
It is not a biography of Hemingway but a very emotional, intimate look at a part of their life at a particular time. What happens has an intense, inevitability to it. She expresses it with all the shadings real life has. I liked it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gives a descriptive insight to Paris and the lives of the expats living there in the 1920's. Rich prose.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This allegorical novel uses rhe characters and events in the life of Hemmingway. The story has multiple levels for portrayal of the human condition. This is a very well crafted story of a couple loosing their interpersonal connection during the career building of the writer. However at a deeper level the seven deadly sins are showen to be the root of evil in the life of the writer. He sucumbs to all of them destroying himself in the process. Very well done indeed! Reread the Sun Also Rises as a companion to this book.
Kate7389 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book so much that I was sad to see it end. Eventhough I knew how things would eventually end, I was surprised by how much I was hoping that everything would work out for them. This was a wonderful piece of historical fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book had all the elements. It was beautifully written, has colorful charactors and a picturesque backdrop of a truly artististic and bohemian time in Paris. I was utterly fascinated by the story and history behind it. Must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it - encouraged me to be more interested in Ernest and Hadley Hemingway bios.Recommending it to my Book Club.
KibKS More than 1 year ago
I was deeply moved by the story of The Paris Wife. I could feel all the emotions flowing through the pages. Anger, madness, confusion, joy, love,trust, distrust. It ran the gambit of emotions & feelings. As other's wrote, I didn't know alot about Ernest "Papa" Hemmingway. He was a remarkable man, talented and alot of the time lost in himself. You will definitely enjoy this read!
mariposa279 More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down. I loved the writing style and the way the characters really came to life. The drama, the tragedy even the mundane managed to be poignant.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Paris Wife is a great historical fiction read. Chance are if you like historical fiction, you will enjoy reading this book. It is basically an adventure through the 1920s literary scence in Paris from Hadley's view.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting. Did not know much about Hemmingway before this book. Found it enjoyable, would recommend to others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A love story for people who dont like love stories
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As written from Hadley's perspective I was engrossed in my reading. I felt her love, her desire, her pain and her choices. Ernest's love for her was deep but his desires could not be met with her alone...thus was the unfortunate part and his wanderings were almost from the start of their marriage. As shown that he married four times he was never satisfied, and his life was never complete as he would have wished it as told in the violent ending to his life at a young age. I would be interested in reading another of Paula McLain's novels and will hope to do so in the near future.
Sunnyo More than 1 year ago
This book is a very good readers' group choice. Intense discussion on the personalities of Hemingway & his first wife, their relationships with family & friends, and the era of women moving forward.