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The Paris Wife [Kindle Edition]

Paula McLain
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (235 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a shy twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness when she meets Ernest Hemingway and is captivated by his energy, intensity and burning ambition to write. After a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for France. But glamorous Jazz Age Paris, full of artists and writers, fuelled by alcohol and gossip, is no place for family life and fidelity. Ernest and Hadley's marriage begins to founder, and the birth of a beloved son serves only to drive them further apart. Then, at last, Ernest's ferocious literary endeavours begin to bring him recognition - not least from a woman intent on making him her own . . .

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I read it in two days, laughing and crying. What a heartbreaker . . . It has all the ingredients of a literary heart-thumper: sex, love, ambition, betrayal, impossibility and regret . . . McLain has given the voice, mind, pen and strength to a woman. Hadley is an intelligent, strong, adult woman in a deeply unsympathetic situation - glittering, but toxic and ultimately very undermining. It's a very haunting combination (Bidisha)

The Paris Wife is mesmerizing. Hadley Hemingway's voice, lean and lyrical, kept me in my seat, unable to take my eyes and ears away from these young lovers. Paula McLain is a first-rate writer who creates a world you don't want to leave. I loved this bo (Nancy Horan, bestselling author of Loving Frank)

** 'Imaginative, elegantly written . . . a pleasure to read - and a pleasure to see Hadley Richardson presented in a sympathetic light Kirkus Starred Review ** 'Fascinating . . . a wonderful read. (Emma Giacon, Amazon)

** 'A compelling portrait of a marriage . . . A fascinating love story (Sue Scholes, WHSmith)


"McLain creates a compelling, spellbinding portrait of a marriage. . . . Women of all ages and situations will sympathize as they follow this seemingly charmed union to its inevitable demise. Colorful details of the expat life in Jazz Age Paris, combined with the evocative story of the Hemingways' romance, result in a compelling story that will undoubtedly establish McLain as a writer of substance. Highly recommended for all readers of popular fiction."
-- "Library Journal"
"McLain offers a vivid addition to the complex-woman-behind-the-legendary-man genre, bringing Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, to life . . . McLain ably portrays the cultural icons of the 1920s--Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, and Ezra and Dorothy Pound--and the impact they have on the then unknown Hemingway, casting Hadley as a rock of Gibraltar for a troubled man whose brilliance and talent were charged and compromised by his astounding capacity for alcohol and women . . . The heart of the story--Ernest and Hadley's relationship--gets an honest reckoning, most notably the waves of elation and despair that pull them apart."
-- "Publishers Weekly
"McLain smartly explores Hadley's ambivalence about her role as supportive wife to a budding genius. . . . Women and book groups are going to eat up this novel."
"-- USA Today"
" "
"A beautiful portrait of being in Paris in the glittering 1920s. . . . McLain's vivid, clear-voiced novel is a conjecture, an act of imaginary autobiography on the part of the author. Yet her biographical and geographical research is so deep, and her empathy for the real Hadley Richardson so forthright (without being intrusively femme partisan), that the account reads as very real indeed."
"-- Entertainment Weekly"
" . . . Paula McLain brings Hadley Richardson Hemingway out from the formidable shadow cast by her famous husband. Much more than a "woman-behind-the-man" homage, thi

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
166 of 173 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Swell... 28 Mar. 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Every now and again you pick up a book and it sings. For me, The Paris Wife is one of those books and I feel very lucky to have found it. Yet now, of course, I'm desperately sad I've finished it, in the sense that I don't quite know how to fill the gap it's left. I feel as if I've lost a lot of friends, good and bad, and I miss them, and the lives they led, now that the last page has turned. That's how good this book is. The action starts in Chicago where twenty-eight year old Hadley Richardson meets and falls in love with a younger man, a struggling writer called Ernest Hemingway. It's the jazz age, the start of the twenties, there's prohibition in America, and people say 'swell' a lot and 'it's a bust.' Written as a memoir, ostensibly (and very convincingly) by Hadley herself but actually by the author Paula McLain drawing on a host of reference works as well as her own glorious imagination, this is literary and social history at first hand, as well as a love story that raises the spirits and then dashes them down. From Chicago to Paris, skiing in Austria, bull-fighting in Spain, and summering on the Côte d'Azur, Hadley covers the tumultous few years of her short and bitter-sweet marriage to one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. Seeing everything through Hadley's eyes, and heart, what Paula McLain doesn't do - brilliantly - is make her story spin round Hemingway. This is absolutely Hadley's story, beautifully and sensitively rendered, with Hemingway just one of a large and glittering cast of characters - though the most significant - in her orbit. A glorious read from the first page to the devastating last few pages. Five stars just isn't enough.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing Special 2 Nov. 2012
I read this book as a member of the reading group recommended it. Reading to the end of the book was a drag. If it had not been for the reading group, I would have have abandoned it much earlier on.

I knew very little about Hemingway, apart from the fact that there are tours organised to track his life in Cuba, and that he has written what are now regarded as classics. A book about part of this famous author's life appeared to be interesting. I was very disappointed and wonder why there are so many 4/5 star reviews of the book.

The style is very pedantic and very boring. Detail is important but when detail becomes the main feature of a book, the reader wonders what the main themes of the book are. It was difficult to find any special themes, unless one is expected to assume that everything about Hemmingway must be interesting. The story of adultery and its consequences is a very common theme, and what one is supposed to conclude from the fact that this is a Paris wife, is not very clear.

In A Note on Sources, the author states that the true story of the Hemingways' marriage is dramatic and compelling. This did not come out in The Paris Wife. Although it appears to be well researched, the author has failed to bring out the true nature of their relationship. Characterization is very poor. Why was Hemingway so much in love with Hadley? What did they see in one another? These are the questions to which we do not get answers.

The author also states that the story of this relationship has been beautifully treated by Hemmingway in A Moveable Feast. I wonder what made Paula McLain believe she could improve on that?
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative and Engaging 17 Mar. 2011
By Post Scriptum VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This imaginative, sensitive, intelligent novel attempts to imagine a marriage, an era, and a world, and, in my view, it does so surprisingly effectively. Author Paula McLain submerged herself in books, letters, memoirs and anecdotes about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley Richardson and then resurfaced to speak, see and feel as this couple might have done, telling the story of their relatively brief but intensely memorable relationship during a richly evocative moment in modern literary and social history. Amidst a backdrop of 1920s Bohemian Paris, peopled by such figures as Gertrude Stein, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Ford Maddox Ford and Jean Rhys, sipping the wines and the spirits as they mix and interact and compete, McLain looks mainly through the eyes of Hadley Richardson to seek to understand the period and place and explore the rise and fall of her time with a writer traumatised by the Great War and still groping for his literary voice. Through prose knowingly redolent of the period, we move smoothly through some bright and colourful incidents, and some darker and heart-rending scenes, before reflecting on what has died, and what remains. It is in many ways an audacious piece of fiction, and also a rather haunting one.
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68 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To Have and Have Not 27 Jan. 2011
By Keris Nine TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Paris of the 1920s is now legendary for the importance and the influence that its Left-Bank artists still hold over our cultural heritage, with Picasso, Joyce, Dos Passos, Fitzgerald, Pound, Stein and Hemingway all to be found working there and frequenting its cafés. They may have mixed in different circles, but each were pushed on by the immense creativity and experimentation that the others in the émigré community were achieving, revelling also in the sometimes scandalous details of the unconventional artistic lives the others were leading. Paula McLain's evocation of the period, focussing on Hemingway years in Paris, seen through the eyes of his first wife, Hadley Richardson, is masterful in its documentation of this period, bringing it fully and authentically to life.

The Paris years undoubtedly represent the best of Hemingway. This is where he created his early Nick Adams short stories, his prose miniatures and The Sun Also Rises, the novel that, along with The Great Gatsby and Tender Is The Night, best captures the personalities and the mindset of those caught up in the fertile changing times of the post-war period. More than just being a creatively productive period for Hemingway, one where he refined and perfected a pure declarative writing style that would almost descend into self-parody in later years, the time of his marriage to Hadley, being poor, starving and struggling to make a living as a writer in Paris, were later looked upon by Hemingway (whose life has also developed into a kind of self-parody), perhaps somewhat idealistically as being a time of purity and innocence that could never be recreated.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read.
A fantastic read. Made me go back and re-read nearly all of Hemingway's work.
Published 19 days ago by Redhead46
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very nice book and a great company if you travel
Published 29 days ago by Natty
5.0 out of 5 stars There are Hemingway fans who will not like this book but I believe the...
There are Hemingway fans who will not like this book but I believe the author captures a fair amount of the relationship between the two people.
Published 1 month ago by William Bean
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A brilliant idea and a brilliant read!!!
Published 1 month ago by Louise Trifillis
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating Read
Utterly successful novel/autobiography in every way. The thorough research and careful, stylish writing makes for verisimilitude and a captivating read.
Published 1 month ago by Julia Johnston
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't know
I don't know, I stopped as it was not from the actual writer. Bit lame.
Published 1 month ago by Birgit Beier
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
On time and book fine
Published 1 month ago by Colin Stokes
4.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing account of Hemmingways first marriage
Fictionalized account of Hemmingways first marriage, from his wife's perspective. Evocative descriptions of the characters of the lost generation, and 1920' paris.
Published 2 months ago by Moviefan
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 3 months ago by Rosemary McKenna
3.0 out of 5 stars The First Wife
Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres of books to read. The Paris Wife I admit is not an area of this particular genre that I would have necessarily picked up to read... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Jo D'Arcy
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