Review – The Paris Wife

paris wifeThe Paris Wife

by Paula McLean

Bookclub pick – purchased

It was so easy to fall into this book, like how Ernest Hemingway and Hadley fell in love.  What a time, jazz, Paris, pre, and post war…short chapters convincing you to read just a little bit more.  Loved it.  I don’t know why, but it took me almost three weeks to finish it though…I kept picking up other things.  But once I committed to finishing, it was so good and wonderful to roll around in their world for a while.  This is a historical fiction book though I read somewhere that McLain did a ton of research and stayed as true to their story as possible.  I am sure she had to make up dialogue and reasoning behind the events that happened and invented Hadley’s thoughts, because this is a first person narrative from her point of view.

“Not everyone believed in marriage then.  To marry was to say you believed in the future and in the past, too – that  history and tradition and hope could stay knit together to hold you up.  But the war had come and stolen all the fine young men and our faith too.  There was only today to throw yourself into without thinking about tomorrow, let alone forever.  To keep you from thinking, there was liquor, an ocean’s worth at least, all the usual vices and plenty of rope to hang yourself with.” pg xi

Hadley and Hemingway marry, she in her mid twenties, he only 21.  They move to Paris, he writes, she keeps house and they meet and hang out with all the other ex-pats in Paris.  Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, the Fitzgeralds etc.  It sounds amazing, chaotic, wonderful and horrible.

We get a few glimpses of the famous folks of that time and I really want to read about Fitzgerald and Zelda now, they seemed like an absolutely intriguing couple.  Was Zelda crazy?  She is shown that way in the little glimpses we catch here.  I also really want to give everyone I know a nickname.  I need one too.

The ending was sad, I cried a couple of tears, because even though their relationship took a while to wind down, things seemed pretty lax back then, everyone had a mistress and a wife and “friends” it seemed.  Especially those artistic types.  But once it ended, it was bittersweet.  Hadley needed to do what she had to do to be happy, and Hem couldn’t change what he had done or the direction he was moving.  This book makes me want to read some Hemingway, to watch Midnight in Paris and check out other writers of that time.  It was lovely.  I enjoyed it quite a bit and recommend it.  If giving stars, I guess I would go in the 4 or 4.5 range.

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About ocdreader

I love to read! I always have a book or four going, I have more books in my to-be-read pile than I can read in a year and yet I continue to haunt the bookstores. I have a problem, but I somehow soldier on. I enjoy talking books, so pass on your recommendations and thoughts - I would love to hear them.
This entry was posted in Bookclub, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Review. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Review – The Paris Wife

  1. Cathy i says:

    I loved the book also. It was the first book club book which truly “caught” me. The author did a wonderful job of bringing their story to life. To complete this circle, read “True At First Light” ‘ started by hemmingway and finished by his children after his death. Tells the story of his time in Africa. Truly Hemmingway embodies the rock star persona we of this generation have seen so frequently. Or, possibly some pathology there. As in, scratch the surface of a great artist and find insanity! I highly recommend the books.

  2. I have seen this one around and have been wondering about it. But when you said sad ending that was it for me. I can’t do sad endings right now. But it does sounds like a good book.

    • ocdreader says:

      No sad endings right now huh – well, this one is bittersweet really. You know she is his first wife.. the book goes through to the second, and then she looks forward to Hem’s last days. That is how it is sad – so good though!

  3. diannegray says:

    I hate sad endings, but the entire book sounds intriguing. I’d love to read it.

  4. I have this book so nice to hear how enjoyable a read it is

    • ocdreader says:

      I had it on my shelf for a while until bookclub picked it – I have to get forced into good stuff once in a while! Hope you enjoy once you get there

  5. beckyday6 says:

    Wow this sounds great! You know….I’m not sure I’ve actually read anything that is proper historical fiction…maybe it’s time I start!

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