The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Summary ~ The Paris Wife ~ A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.

Before reading The Paris Wife by Paula McLain the only familiarity I had with Hemingway was the look-a-like contest held in Key West, FL every year and some of country singer Kenny Chesney’s tunes and his admiration for the writer.  Having just finished The Paris Wife I feel more familiar with the man but am left wanting to know more and feeling left in the dark a bit  when it comes to Hemingway.  He proved to be very interesting to read about. 

I had the great pleasure of meeting Paula McLain and listening to her read from and talk about her exceptional novel The Paris Wife a couple of months ago at the 2011 Gaithersburg (MD) Book Festival.  As I started to read her book last week I could hear her effervescent and charming voice reading her words in my head.  Quickly Hadley’s voice took over for Ms. McLain and I was happy to have her company for a week.  The Paris Wife is a book unlike any I’ve read.  It read like a novel told in first person most of the time but at moments a biography about Hemingway popped up from the pages and introduced me to the legendary writer in a very informative way.  I found myself feeling like a voyeur into the city of Paris in the roaring 20’s and the lives of Hadley, Ernest and their very interesting friends.  I was glad that I had recently seen Woody Allen’s lovely film, Midnight In Paris.  I had never read anything by Hemingway nor had I looked into the lives of Hemingway, Fitzgerald and the number of other writers introduced in The Paris Wife.  Now I want to!  Isn’t that what a book should do?  Lead you somewhere else!

Regarding McLain’s writing I found the insight directly into Hemingway’s thoughts and experiences brought an additional richness to Hadley’s words and story telling.  At times it was heartbreaking to learn what Ernest was truly about but it created even more depth that was just so great to read.

The Paris Wife is an emotional, romantic, painful and wonderful book.  It made me glad that I didn’t marry a man like Ernest Hemingway!

{Rating 4.5 out of 5}

4 thoughts on “The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

  1. I’m reading this one right now and am loving it! I just read A Moveable Feast before starting it and it’s such a great companion to this one. It’s Hemingway’s memoir of the same time. I also want to watch Woody Allen’s movie.

  2. I loved this book. On a recent trip to Paris, I went on a Heningway tour and saw where Hadley and Ernest lived and the places they frequented. I am definitely going to read A Moveable Feast !

  3. Wow, Thank you for this blog. Thats all I can say. You most definitely have made this blog into something thats eye opening and important. You clearly know so much about the subject, youve covered so many bases. Great stuff from this part of the internet. Again, thank you for this blog.

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