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The Paris Wife Paperback – 3 Mar 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (3 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844086674
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844086672
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.5 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (229 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 870,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'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 book' --Nancy Horan, bestselling author of Loving Frank

Book Description

*A heart-wrenching story of ambition and betrayal that captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley - will be heralded as a classic and great love story

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

166 of 173 people found the following review helpful By Boot-Boy VINE VOICE on 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 By Discerning Reader on 2 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback
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 By Post Scriptum VINE VOICE on 17 Mar. 2011
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 By Keris Nine TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 Jan. 2011
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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