Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Published:  2011 by Ballantine Books
Source:  Advance Copy received from the publisher

  First of all, a confession:  I have never thought I would like Ernest Hemingway.  I think I read one or two of his books long ago but I didn't get anything out of them; and he has always struck me as a macho guy without anything to say that would be relevant to me.

  That might still be true, but after reading The Paris Wife, I am willing to try him again.  This novel is not about Hemingway himself so much as it is about his first wife, Hadley.  The two met in Chicago in 1920 and after their marriage, they moved to Paris where Hemingway struggled with his writing and Hadley gave him the time and space he needed.  Their marriage was by no means ideal and who knows if it would have fared any different if they remained in the United States, but this novel portrays Hadley for the most part as a woman standing by her man through thick and thin, despite the effects on her own aspirations and well-being.  That is not to say she was a weak woman; despite her love and loyalty to Hemingway she did very well standing up to him.

  Of course, as a francophile I also loved the descriptions of 1920s Paris, and the atmosphere of that era really came through.  And the description of Hemingway's writing process - especially the genesis of the novel The Sun Also Rises has made me want to read this book and see if my attitude toward his writing has changed.




  1. I have this book and I am eager to read it and give it a try. I have never actually read any Hemingway, but have heard his style described as terse and sparse. I actually think he is more an author for males, rather than females, just because of his proclivity to be brusque in his writing. Looking forward to reading this one, and glad to hear that you liked it!

  2. I am excited to read this one! I am a huge Hemingway fan and pretty much loved the majority of his most well known novels, with A Moveable Feast being my absolute favorite! Learning that The Paris Wife is about the same experience but from Hadley's perspective made me so excited to read it, that I can't believe I haven't picked it up yet! I must absolutely read this one soon! I came another blog recently that I've been following - it's written by a woman who is researching as much as she can about Hadley; she posts the audio files of interviews that Hadley did years ago, and it's fascinating. The site is called and she just did a review of The Paris Wife as well. Okay, now I'm moving the book up my TBR list right :)


What do you think? Good or bad, I'd love to hear from you (but be nice - I'm sensitive!)