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 becomeThe 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.
Pages: 314 (Hardcover)
Rating: 8 out of 10
Source: Checked out from the library multiple times
Date Completed: July 20, 2012
In the spring of 2011, I attended the Gaithersburg Book Festival with my friend Karen. She had a list of authors she wanted to see and Paula McLain was on her list. I did not know anything about the author or the book, but I decided to sit in on the session. Paula McLain was a very engaging speaker and the love story she described between Hadley Richardson and Ernest Hemingway gave me goose bumps. You can see her presentation here. She made an impression on me and The Paris Wife got a spot on my very long to-read list.
It took me over a year to begin The Paris Wife. I began reading in April; with library wait lists and life demands, I did not finish until July. While I am glad I read the book, I was not drawn into the story as much as I hoped. I liked Hadley's character and found the story of their romance nice, but also frustrating. I appreciated and related to Hadley's desire to break out of her family's protective circle. At several points in the novel, while I groaned at her situation, I was impressed with Hadley's ability to proceed as she wished. Trying to find her own way in the midst of societal expectations must have been tough. As the story unfolded, I felt better and better about not liking Hemingway's novels. He was a jerk and deeply disappointing. As an aside, I keep hoping to hear about a male artist who is able to be loyal and loving to his spouse.