Witz, December 19, 2014 (view all comments by Witz)
An introduction into the lives of one famous writer and his "co-dependent" wife long before fame/fortune...
It is a shame that Hadley, Ernest Hemingway's first wife from a very small town, came across as so weak-willed and fawning in this story. I found both of them to be dislikable for different reasons, according the the book's descriptions, though it seemed plausible that Hemingway needed someone to come home to who would be 100% devoted to his needs. Best sections described the vignettes leading up to the writing of "The Sun Also Rises" and how Hadley's presence during all the festivities were erased so that her husband could flirt/then include Brett as the female lead in that story. Writing quality overall is fair but not outstanding in any way.
Sheila Deeth, November 1, 2014 (view all comments by Sheila Deeth)
Ernest Hemingway, today, seems an acquired taste, one I acquired in college and have neglected ever since. But his wife - Paris wife, first wife - was most certainly an unknown ot me, so it was intriguing to see her brought to life in Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife. Other famous characters weave in and out the tale - with much weaving due to much consumption of alcohol. And famous events - prohibition, war and more - form a powerful backdrop. But, for me, the most powerful part of the backdrop was the casual name-dropping of even more well-known names from a previous era - not so long-gone after all. Somehow meeting characters who met characters who knew the poets of old made this story all the more absorbing.
The depiction of Europe between the wars, of excess and folly, and a land just opening itself to tourism’s deception, makes an ideal backdrop to a tale where war’s folly and alcohol’s excess will destroy the perfection of true love. Despite their drunkenness and repeated quarrels, the characters remain accessible and believable. And even quiet Hadley has a power of her own, not so retreating as she seems, nor so simperingly weak. There’s a strength in her decisions that grows from the beginning of the novel to its end, and the tragedy of her broken marriage will mirror the tragedies of treaties soon to be broken in a war-wounded world.
The story’s slow at times, but occasional glimpses into Hemingway’s thoughts, the weaving of well-known characters with strangers, and the convincing depiction of Hadley’s gradual growth makes it a powerful, fascinating tale, to be savored and enjoyed.
AnnS, October 21, 2014 (view all comments by AnnS)
Having read The Movable Feast, this is enjoyable. Even though it is fiction, I find that I remember sections of The Movable Feast very clearly. It is interesting to read from Hadley's point of view. Good read.
IslandPoet, February 10, 2014 (view all comments by IslandPoet)
McLain's book is presented as fiction, but based on what I have read elsewhere, it stays very true to the known facts about the lives of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. Courtship, marriage, the move to Paris, and birth of their son "Bumby" are all rendered in exquisite period details through the eyes of Hadley. What began as a story of true love deteriorates into a tale of nightlife, alcohol excess, and infidelity as the young Hemingways are surrounded by the Paris celebrities of the Twenties. Fitzgerald, Stein, Pound and other luminaries of the time all make their memorable appearances. It was interesting to me that the downhill course of Hadley's marriage coincided with the rising fame and success of Ernest. The story is told with restraint and respect. I felt my heart breaking for both of them, but especially Hadley. A must-read for any fan of Hemingway, the Jazz Age, Twenties literature, or Paris in general.
tw.moran, January 31, 2013 (view all comments by tw.moran)
Beautifully written - Though it is a historical fiction, I felt like I was reading a biography on Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley Richardson during the Jazz Age Pairs in the 20's. I found myself taking notes to learn more about the different places they traveled to or hang out at with their circle of friends from Gertrude Stein to F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
by Entertainment Weekly,
“A beautiful portrait of being in Paris in the glittering 1920s — as a wife and as one’s own woman.”
by The Boston Globe,
“[Paula] McLain has brought Hadley [Hemingway] to life in a novel that begins in a rush of early love....A moving portrait of a woman slighted by history, a woman whose...story needed to be told.”
by Minneapolis Star Tribune,
“The Paris Wife creates the kind of out-of-body reading experience that dedicated book lovers yearn for, nearly as good as reading Hemingway for the first time — and it doesn’t get much better than that.”
by The Seattle Times,
“Exquisitely evocative....This absorbing, illuminating book gives us an intimate view of a sympathetic and perceptive woman, the striving writer she married, the glittering and wounding Paris circle they were part of....McLain reinvents the story of Hadley and Ernest’s romance with the lucid grace of a practiced poet.”
“A novel that’s impossible to resist. It’s all here, and it all feels real.”
An instant national bestseller, this stunningly evocative, beautifully rendered story told in the voice of Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley, has the same power and historical richness that made Loving Frank a bestseller.
No twentieth-century American writer has captured the popular imagination as much as Ernest Hemingway. This novel tells his story from a unique point of view — that of his first wife, Hadley. Through her eyes and voice, we experience Paris of the Lost Generation and meet fascinating characters such as Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and Gerald and Sara Murphy. The city and its inhabitants provide a vivid backdrop to this engrossing and wrenching story of love and betrayal that is made all the more poignant knowing that, in the end, Hemingway would write of his first wife, "I wish I had died before I loved anyone but her."
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.