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 happinessuntil 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 groupthe fabled Lost Generationthat 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 marriagea deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything theyve 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.
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. ...
With 20 out of 22 reviewers rating it 4 or 5 stars, The Paris Wife is a clear favorite amongst BookBrowse readers, and has inspired many to revisit classic works by Ernest Hemingway.
Paula McLain sympathetically captures Hadley Richardson's voice in this highly addictive, page-turning debut. She pushes deep in to the lives of her characters while remaining true to the facts (Jill S). The narrative is very compelling! I was hooked by the first chapter and it never let up, and despite knowing how the marriage ended, I was riveted (Michele J). Perhaps the author's greatest strength is that her writing style is much like Hemingway's - crisp, clear, and concise (Mary S). I felt I was living in this unstable world and sympathized with Hadley as she watched her marriage fall apart while Ernest became more and more concerned with his own reputation and with fitting into a world that she could not accept. If for no other reason, the novel is worth reading for taking us back to a time many of us know little about (Sandra H). (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).
Full Review (1208 words).
Paula McLain's novel, The Paris Wife, centers on the relationship between Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Elizabeth Hadley Richardson. However, over the course of his life (1899-1961) Ernest Hemingway married four different women, each unique and interesting in her own right:
Elizabeth Hadley Richardson: Born on November 9, 1891, Hadley was raised in a rather cheerless household. She suffered a serious injury as a child when she fell out of a second-story window, putting her in the hospital for months and igniting her mother's overprotection. This, plus the suicide of her father when she was 12, contributed to Hadley's severe shyness, and she sought refuge from her difficult childhood in music. After her mother's death, Hadley ...
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