The Paris Wife

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The Paris Wife

A Novel

Hadley Richardson only wanted to escape – she knew it wouldn’t be for forever, but just couldn’t help feeding her wild side for a while. What she never imagines, however, is falling in love…and then jetting off to Paris.

What she also doesn’t know is that her unpublished author of a husband will eventually become an icon of American writing. Because the true story is that Hadley Richardson is none other than the first Ms. Ernest Hemingway.

In McLain’s novel, the tale of Hemingway’s first and – by his and Hadley’s view – most romantic love is told through Hadley’s eyes. Through her discussion of her married life, she provides glimpses into the writer’s personality and shows how his impulsiveness and ego turned him into the Hemingway the world knows today.

The Paris Wife is a daring portrait of the delicate psyche of not just writers, but the people surrounding them. Through Hadley the reader learns about the roaring world that was Paris in the 1920s and how the time shaped one of America’s most beloved and respect authors. Through descriptions of Hadley’s background, McLain shows how her humanity and the inevitable doom of her stint as a first wife. What is most amazing about this book, however, is McLain’s skill in crafting an engaging sentence. The author’s vocabulary and beautiful manner of story-telling outshine the story itself. 

Book Blurb for The Paris Wife

A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

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 and her life changes forever. 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 and Zelda Fitzgerald.

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises. Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold on to her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually 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.

Night Owl Reviews Mar, 2011 4.00