Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

I was browsing the best seller books at the library when I saw this audiobook, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. The short paragraph summarizing the book looked intriguing. It was read by Carrington MacDuffie and I am so glad I checked it out.

This is the story of Ernest Hemingway told from his first wife’s point of view. Her name was Hadley Richardson. The couple met in Chicago in 1920, Hemingway was 21 and Hadley was 28. They married in 1921 and the marriage lasted for six years.

Hemingway suffered with what we call PTSD today. He also had family issues: an overbearing, judgmental mother, and a father who committed suicide. Hadley shared the same tragedy as her father also committed suicide. She was naïve and head over heels in love with Hemingway. She was his number one fan and supporter of his writing career.

Hadley sacrificed her dreams for Hemingway. They moved to Paris because Hemingway felt jealous that his peers were being recognized. They became friends with famous people, such as, Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The norm for the decade was to drink all day and into the night while enjoying the Jazz Age in Paris. They kept up with their new friends by partying, but never their financial status. They lived by what we call today, pay check to pay check.

Hemingway was a womanizer. The modern woman was hard for Hemingway to resist, even though he loved Hadley and their son very much. Most men had mistresses in Paris at that time and Hemingway was no exception. Eventually this is what led to the demise of their marriage. Hadley struggled too long with her decision to end the marriage. She became a stronger woman after the divorce.

Hemingway wed three more times after his divorce from Hadley. He never really loved another woman as much as he loved Hadley. He committed suicide at the age of sixty-two.

I love Paula McLain’s writing style. She waits to expose the secrets and thoughts of Hemingway and Hadley at just the right time throughout the story. It made the book enjoyable and I especially enjoyed listening to the audiobook.

This book has sparked my interest in reading more about Hemingway. This is the ultimate compliment to Paula McLain.

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