Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Book Review-- The Paris Wife Paula McLain

Synopsis: 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.

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill-prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises. Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold on to her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.

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.

The Nerd's Ramble: This book blew me away. I had no intention of reading it as I'm not a fan of Hemingway. I kept seeing it around various stores, and when I went into the library to pick up some books that I had on hold I saw that it was the book selected for our county's read-a-long. I picked it up, read the back and figured I'd give it a shot. I sat down one morning and didn't move until I finished the book. It's not very long, it took me a couple hours to read and I think it's a book that I'd also like to own (one day when I have more space on my shelves.)

Much how people either love or hate Hemingway, people love or hate this book. Goodreads is full of reviews talking about how much people loved this, and equally how much they hated it. I for one loved this book. The story is told from Hadley's point of view, a 28 year old woman who meets, and falls in love with a much younger Hemingway. They have a whirl-wind romance and courtship through letters, and I got caught up in it as well. Ms. McLain is a wonderful story teller, and she managed to drag my Hemingway-despising self through this six year romance and actually brought me to tears toward the end of their story.

The main setting of the book is post-war Paris, and the descriptions really transported me there. The setting itself is a character, seducing both Hemingway and Hadley into it's lifestyle and introducing them and the reader to names that still hold a lot of sway on literary shelves. The story really is vibrant and beautiful, though tragic in the end. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Rating: ★★★★★
Total Length: 314 pages
Formats Available: Kindle, Nook, Epub, Traditional publication.
Publication Date: February 11, 2011 (Ballantine Books)
Author's Link: Paula McLain on Goodreads

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