I haven't linked up for Book Club Friday in a hot minute so I thought this week, while I will be out of town on Friday anyway, would be the perfect opportunity!
The Paris Wife was book number 24 for me in 2012 and a refreshing break from the 1-2 star Kindle reads of late. I marked it a 4 star read on Goodreads after finishing it before work on Wednesday morning (I hate when library due dates are looming over my head going into a vacation).
This fictitious story about Ernest Hemingway and his first (of four) wives, Hadley, fascinated me. I've read about half of Ernest Hemingway's published work including: The Old Man and the Sea, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and I believe the Sun Also Rises (sounds familiar but I'm not positive I've read it). Having read his work I would have pictured his personality almost exactly as author Paula McClain writes him - dramatic, dark, selfish, and brooding.
Well written and strikingly realistic for that time period, in Paris, I found this book really enjoyable. Not a light, summery beach read by any means but a true literary work of art. I found is refreshing she didn't try to paint Hemingway as a favorable light but rather played into what we know of his dark, alcoholic lifestyle. Also, the way she carries you from his first wife towards who will later be his second wife is believable and gracefully composed.
A story of life, love, betrayal, infidility, alcoholism, and the artist plight - McClain really impressed me with this one. I also enjoyed the inclusion of other writers I admire from Fitzgerald (of The Great Gatsby) to Gertrude Stein.
Amazon describe it this way:
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.