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The Paris Wife Paperback – 3 Mar 2011
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'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
*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 storySee all Product description
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I bought this to read in Paris - though Paris was so fabulous I didn't read anything. I have never managed to get through any Hemingway, and a big part of this was because what I'd read of the man personally made me actively dislike him. The Paris Wife is the fictionalised story of his first marriage to Hadley, and their years primarily in Paris but also in Spain and Austria. I was sold on the idea of the literary Paris of the 1920s, full of great characters like Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Fitzgerald and James Joyce. What I got (or how I read it) was a really sad, sordid tale of two mismatched characters in a doomed marriage. And what I read of Hemingway in this account confirmed everything I'd read of him before too - mysoginistic, selfish, arrogant, a man who couldn't care less who he hurt on his journey to literary fame, and who thought the world and especially his wife was there simply to serve him. The glittering cast were also - to me - tragic, screwed up and extremely unlikeable. I felt sorry for Hadley, but so much of what happened was made worse by her inaction, there were times when I wanted to shake her or scream at her. Nothing Hemingway did seemed too much, and even his ultimate marital sin, of introducing the woman who would become his second wife into the marriage and trying to make of it a menage a trois (in my view simply because he felt he had to, it was something others had and he hadn't tried) wasn't the death knell it should have been. In fact, it took Hemingway actually making love to his mistress while his wife pretended to sleep IN THE SAME BED for Hadley to finally call a halt.
This was a beautifully written book. It was also clearly very well researched, and I imagine a perfect counter-balance to Hemingway's story of the marriage which he published much later. But it was a painful read, and I'm afraid I won't be filling in the Hemingway gap in my own literary reading now.
By Paula McLain
The Paris Wife is written as a novel but tells the true story of Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage. The author says that she was at great pains to make it as accurate as possible. It is well written, as far as the actual prose is concerned and is a fairly easy read.
However I was rather disappointed in the storytelling. I was looking forward to reading about the period and the flamboyant characters involved in their story and found it rather bland. Hadley, the wife, is a rather insipid character, content to live in the shadow of her husband and to meet his expectations, mainly that everything must be sacrificed to his writing.
The whole book lacked passion for me. How can you people a book with literary giants such as Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein in the post WW1 atmosphere of the artist’s quarter in Paris and it lack fire?
I expected much more entertainment value and colour.
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The characters are, Ernest Hemingway and Hadley Richardson.Read more