Review: The Paris Wife — Paula McLain

Read: 59
To Go: 41

Book List
51. The Brass Verdict — Michael Connelly
52. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo — Stieg Larsson
53. The Reversal — Michael Connelly
54. When You Were Mine — Elizabeth Noble
55. The Scarecrow — Michael Connelly
56. The Poet — Michael Connelly
57. If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t) — Betty White
58. Ape House — Sara Gruen
59. The Paris Wife — Paula McLain

In 1920 Chicago, 28-year-old Hadley Richardson has essentially given up on love until she meets the vibrant Ernest Hemingway, whose good looks, charm, and passion for writing draw her to him. After a whirlwind courtship and marriage, the two leave for Paris where they become the golden couple in the heart of a lively but volatile group of expatriates, including Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

There has been a lot written about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife (none of which I’ve read), but I can take a guess that no one has done it quite like Paula McLain. The Paris Wife was utterly enchanting, and McLain’s ability to recreate the personalities of some literary big names was really quite fascinating. I can’t claim to know much about Hemingway, Stein, Pound, or Fitzgerald, but her rendering of them, as well as their interactions with each other, was fantastic — they were the way I would have pictured them in my mind. (Having Gertrude Stein philosophize about how a hawk is always a hawk unless it’s a cabbage seemed utterly like her, and the rest of her bizarre work.)

In regards to the novel’s heroine, for the most part Hadley Richardson-Hemingway just made me sad. Though at first I was falling in love with Ernest right alongside her, I quickly started asking myself “is she blind to the fact that this guy is an absolute asshole?” Not to sully the good name of Ernest Hemingway, but while he may have been an excellent writer he was not a good husband in the least. I understand that it was a completely different time, and being a wife in Paris meant a different thing than it does now, but I just felt like Hadley needed, in equal measure, a hug and a slap on the face. Though her eventual strength impressed me, it was just hard to see her deal with her years of her husband’s crap without even batting an eyelash. However, credit goes to McLain for making their relationship seem so real that it really, really bothered me.

I’d definitely suggest reading The Paris Wife, because it was good (if not a little long and drawn out at times).

Next book: Skyward — Mary Alice Monroe

– Kelsey

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