Thursday, July 26, 2012

Book Review: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

I read a brief write up of The Paris Wife by Paula McLain in Real Simple magazine one month and I thought it sounded interesting. This is the story of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, The Paris Wife, Hadley. I find Hemingway to be an interesting person and plan to read more about him in the future but I thought it would be nice to start with this novel about his relationship with Hadley.

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I love the book; it was well written and felt like a memoir written by Hadley while it was actually a novel written by McLain.

While reading the book (or listening to it on my iPod via rather) my mind kept circling back to how real these character were. I often wondered how McLain could write such a book after both Hemingway and Hadley were deceased and therefore unavailable for interview.

With just a quick search on I learned that McLain used the numerous letters written between Hadley and Hemingway to learn the intimacy they shared and to develop her story. I assume the rest was rounded out with details McLain polished in her vision of this famous couple.

Hemingway and Hadley meet through a mutual friend one week in Chicago. Hadley has had a volatile life that McLain does a wonderful job piecing out to the reader in the first chapters of the book. As the reader, you may find yourself rooting for Hadley straight off.

Hadley has found herself to be a 28 year old woman in 1921’s Midwestern America. Almost a spinster, she is giving up on love and happiness when she meets Ernest and while very cautious she is intrigued by him. They spend months exchanging letters until she finally visits him again in Chicago. Within a short time they are engaged and then married and trying to figure out how to get to Paris where Hemingway is told he will meet people who will inspire him and mentor him.

The novel follows the years of their courtship, marriage, child, and eventual breakdown of their relationship after the Hadley learns of Hemingway’s affair (not his first but the first she knows of!)

I truly enjoyed this novel and will have to continue to remind myself that while this was well researched, it was in fact a novel which gives the author a lot of creative license. Ms. McLain, I believe you used that license very well. Very well indeed.


Nicholl Vincent said...

this sounds like a good pick!

drop a hello at and have a wonderful day love!

Sapir said...

I've read this book as well and I loved it! I too kept getting so wrapped up in their lives that I had to keep reminding myself that this is only someone's perspective on their story!
I'm thrilled to be your newest follower and would love it if you could return the follow if you get the chance and wish to :)
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