Book Review – “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain

   Title:  The Paris Wife

Author:  Paula McLain

Publisher:  Random House

Synopsis (from  Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking, fast-living, and free-loving life of Jazz Age Paris. As Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history and pours himself into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises, Hadley strives to hold on to her sense of self as her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Eventually they find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve 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.

My thoughts:  I can’t believe I have been away from this blog for awhile again – ahhhh.  At least it seems as if I have gotten out of my reading slump a bit lately, not totally “cured” but hopefully on my way.  Anyway, on to the review . . .

My book club chose this book for our November read.  Well, what can I say?  I hate being in between and rather apathetic about a book, but unfortunatley this is the case with The Paris Wife.  I didn’t hate it, but I also didn’t love it either.   This book is set in the early 1920’s and explores the relationship of the great Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley.  I don’t know much about the true life of Hemingway, so perhaps this was a disadvantage for me in reading this book.  It was an odd mix of fiction and reality for me.  Clearly it was a work of fiction, however there were many aspects of the story that indeed were true I am sure.  I just found it odd for me not to know what things actually took place in this relationship and which were in fact the author taking creative liscence.  I am not a lover of non-fiction at all, so I guess I would have simply preferred a fictional account.

The story chronicles the sometimes tumultuous relationship of Hemingway and Hadley – their travels around the world soaking in the artistic culture of the time in Paris and beyond, meeting famous authors of the day, and trying to navigate a relationship amongst Hemingway’s struggles with the writing process and his shifting moods.  There was no doubt in my mind how I felt about Hemingway in this book – I just wanted to scream what a jerk he was the entire time I was reading and kept wondering why Hadley was putting up with the treatment she was receiving.  Then I reminded myself that it in fact was a different time in the world and for the time that it was Hadley was rather a progressive, strong individual!

I found the book rather boring, flat, and repetitive at times and after about the halfway point just really lost interest!

A decent read, but surely nothing I would have picked up on my own outside of my book club!

And remember,

Books Are Life,



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Filed under Book Club, Book Reviews, Fiction

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