Friday, July 8, 2011

The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife
Paula McLain
Ballantine Books
ISBN: 978-03421309
336 pages

“Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another. “ Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway is remembered as a phenomenal author but also as a person who lived and died by his own set of rules. With four wives, bull fights, friendships or enemies with other authors, and suicide, all of these set his life apart from anything but normal. In The Paris Wife, Paula McLain magnifies one section of Ernest Hemingway’s life, the time with his first wife, Elizabeth “Hadley” Richardson.

This story revolves around when Hadley and Ernest first meet through when they divorce. Hadley was twenty-nine years old when she met the twenty-one year old Hemingway. There was an instantaneous attraction. They quickly married and moved to Europe, centering mostly in Paris. At this time, numerous legendary authors formed a close-knit community here and spent much time together with the couple such as Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos, and F. Scott Fitzgerald as well as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, and Juan Gris. Most of this time, Ernest worked as a journalist while being a financially struggling writer on the side. Their experiences and the visits to Spain for the bull fighting and the runs became much of the content of the memorable novels.

Pauline Pfeiffer, eventually the second wife, becomes an interesting character as she befriends both Ernest and Hadley and is a close and valued friend to both. This awkward friendship eventually caused the dissolution of the marriage.

The Paris Wife tells the story from Hadley’s perspective. Yes, I would consider this to be an advanced chic lit book. Men, you won’t enjoy it unless you enjoy reading romances. The idea to write this book came from when the author read Hemingway’s memoir, A Moveable Feast. One of the last lines about Hadley stated, “I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her.” That is the basis for this story.

I enjoyed this novel. However, it came already installed on my Kindle. It flowed easily. It is not a guy novel at all. The Paris Wife is for those who enjoy an involved and realistic love story.

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