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. Read more...
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. NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY People - Chicago Tribune - NPR - The Philadelphia Inquirer - Kirkus Reviews - The Toronto Sun - BookPage 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. Praise for The Paris Wife "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 "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
Paris is not for lovers
Paula McLain’s fictionalized study of the starter marriage of Hadley Richardson and Ernest Hemingway, The Paris Wife, is a pleasure for anyone who wonders what it was like to be a broke, ambitious writer in Europe in the 1920s. Or, more specifically, a broke, ambitious writer’s wife.
Hadley meets Ernest at a friend’s house in Chicago. She’s in her late 20s, nearly a decade older than he is, and on the verge of permanent spinsterhood. He deflowers her, they marry and flee to Paris, where they can live cheaply and meet all manner of big shots, including Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound. They have a baby, nicknamed Bumby. There’s some drinking, though Hadley doesn’t hit the sauce nearly as much as Ernest. In McLain’s hands, he’s nicer than one would think, and the word that comes to mind for Hadley is “earnest” as she struggles to make homes for them in dinky little rooms while Hem tries to make a living. In clear and unfussy prose, McLain makes the reader long for their Lost Generational squalor.
Indeed, McLain’s talent is such that the fact that few of the characters are likable doesn’t mar her story. Characters need only be interesting, and well-drawn creeps are the most interesting of them all. Exceptions to the overall badness are the Murphys, the rich, cosmopolitan and compassionate couple who adopt both the Hemingways and the F. Scott Fitzgeralds like some folks adopt ugly pound puppies, and of course Bumby, still a child when his parents’ marriage detonates. Even Hadley repels with her love of bullfighting—a woman who gets her kicks from watching an animal tortured to death is simply not someone one can like. When the appalling Pauline Pfeiffer, who will become Ernest’s second wife, crawls into bed with them one drowsy Mediterranean afternoon one doesn’t know whether to cheer or gag. Hadley, like so many of her revered matadors, ends up pretty badly gored, but survives, and lives well into her 80s.
Restrained, perceptive and a bit sad, The Paris Wife is a look at a time and a marriage that weren’t as glamorous and carefree as we’d like to believe.