Reader reviews and comments on The Paris Wife, plus links to write your own review.

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The Paris Wife

A Novel

By Paula McLain

The Paris Wife
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • Hardcover: Feb 2011,
    336 pages.
    Paperback: Nov 2012,
    352 pages.

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There are currently 23 reader reviews for The Paris Wife
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melissa (03/27/13)

lovely
The Times called Hadley boring at times, but that is incorrect.The book is a perfect portrayal of how a narcissist thinks. Nothing this man says to his supposed love has anything whatsoever to do with HER. It is always about HIM right down to how she says she is happy at their marriage because HE NEEDS to hear it. Its exhausting to know these individuals let alone LOVE them because there really is no empathy or ability to love. And you see in this book how it affects those around them. I pity this woman and to see her get a little angrier, show some self would be the stuff of modern romance where Jerry Mcguire realizes that he has been a shallow self absorbed jerk and vows to change...but narcissists don't change...psychiatrists don't treat then, they ignore them, and that's not how his life went..
I bought the book because I absolutely had to see the quality of fiction writing that goes to auction and I am left without a bone in my body that ISN'T jealous of McClains prose.It is beautifully imagined.
Martha P. (Issaquah, WA) (01/12/11)

An American girl in Paris
Paula McLain's story of Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway's first wife, gives the reader a behind-the-scenes look at the very early days in Hemingway's career and the social scene in Paris with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, etc. While the novel was slow-moving at times and a bit repetitious it was ultimately saved by the first person narrative as told by Hadley. It was like reading an elaborately written diary where you are let in on secrets and private matters as uncomfortable and sad as they may be. Not quite on a par with Loving Frank by Nancy Horan but a satisfying read nonetheless.
Liz C. (Portage, MI) (01/05/11)

The Paris Wife
I enjoyed Paula McLain’s poetic depiction of Ernest and Hadley Hemingway’s years as a married couple in Paris. The cast of characters is an interesting one and reading about their exploits is intriguing. In terms of being emotionally engaging, the book fell a little flat for me. Some of it seemed like a laundry list of facts about Hadley and Ernest’s lives: where they lived, what they ate and drank, who they saw. McLain’s Hadley can’t help but be overshadowed by her larger than life husband and some of their friends. The Paris Wife may inspire some readers to read Hemingway’s novels and short stories. I look forward to reading more of McLain’s work.
Michele J. (Gig Harbor, WA) (12/22/10)

Fascinating portrait
A novel written in first-person narrative from the point of view of Hadley Hemingway, Earnest Hemingway's first wife. Hadley married Earnest when he was a young, unknown, aspiring writer and gave up her life in the States to move to Paris with him so that he could immerse himself in his writing.

The narrative is very compelling...I was hooked by the first chapter and it never let up. Despite knowing how the marriage ended, I was riveted to this book.

The author stays true to history while finding truth and poignancy in Hadley's voice. While I didn't always agree with her decisions, she is astonishingly real on these pages.

Highly, highly recommended!
Linda P (12/22/10)

The Paris Wife
This beautifully written account of Hadley Richardson’s marriage to Hemingway starts a bit slowly, but stay with it and you’ll be rewarded. By the end of the book I was completely caught up in the saga of a fascinating though difficult relationship. I highly recommend this book to Hemingway fans or those who would like to understand his personality. At the end of the book, I came away with a real appreciation for Hadley and what their relationship meant to both of them. It was a can’t-live-with-him-can’t-live-without-him seesaw they shared and eventually the can’t-live-with-him side triumphed. I would also recommend reading The Garden of Eden. It’s not one of his best-known novels, but I believe it echoes–from his point of view–the story of this marriage.
Susan H. (Charleston, WV) (12/20/10)

The Paris Wife
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain was a disappointment to me. None of the characters, especially those of Hemingway and Hadley, became alive as I read the book. The relaxed pace of the book never gained enough speed to capture the excitement of running the bulls of Pamplona nor the intensity of the Paris when many of the most important literary figures of time gathered, or the intricate first marriage of Hemingway.
Ms. McLain used reliable research sources for her fictional account of the marriage between Hadley Richardson and Ernest Hemingway, and the reader wanting a Lost Generation moment or two would be better off to stick to those sources than The Paris Wife.
Victoria (CA) (12/19/10)

A Unique Perspective on Hemingway's Crowd
As someone who hasn't read a lot of Hemingway, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself engrossed in the story of "Hem" and his first wife, Hadley. It's easy to get caught up in this novel, with its quick pace and clear writing. The story takes place not only in Paris, but around the globe, making it as interesting a read for the traveling as for the famous characters. McLain does a great job introducing characters like Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald through Hadley's eyes, without any starstruck pretenses. Hadley is a likable main character, as she is a bit of an outsider to Hem's artistic Parisian set, yet fascinated by them all the same (rather like her readers). The Paris Wife makes me want to go back and reread The Sun Also Rises... a true delight for Hemingway fans and historical fiction lovers alike.
Marjorie H. (Bedford, TX) (12/16/10)

What's Love Got To Do With It
Excellent, well-written book. The characters had depth and believability.
While Hemingway certainly is one of the literary giants of the 20th century, he plainly suffers from toxic selfishness. Perhaps all artists do . . . but Hadley suffers at his notion of marriage and stability. He uses her, discards her and uses his central focusing eye on himself. Obviously, Hadley expected more than hanging out with shiftless, unfocused "artists." Hadley and Ernest's marriage is a timeless struggle of failed expectations and ever mounting disappointment while trying to navigate two separate lifestyles. It was a recipe for disaster. Very sad, but not a new story.
I highly recommend this book. Not only for the story, but for the author's obvious writing talent.
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Beyond the Book:
  Hemingway's Leading Ladies

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