The Paris Wife
Genre: Historical Fiction
Summary (by the publisher): 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
Review: I didn't love this book, but I thought it was a well-written, well-researched, informative look into a different era. As someone who has fairly traditional values, I didn't approve of the Hemingways' lifestyle at all, but part of the appeal of the book was learning how people actually did live in post-war France. I was sympathetic towards Hadley, while at the same time not understanding why she married Ernest in the first place, or why she stuck with him after his affair. I think she was just a naive girl who got carried away by love and romance, and wasn't raised to be strong and independent like girls are now, so I tried not to judge her too much. Ernest came across as a self-centered, selfish, egotistic man, but somehow I came away from the book really wanting to read The Sun Also Rises. We are discussing this at my book club tonight, so I will be interested in what everyone else thought.
Rating: 4 stars