From Goodreads: No twentieth-century American writer has captured the popular imagination as much as Ernest Hemingway. This novel tells his story from a unique point of view — that of his first wife, Hadley. Through her eyes and voice, we experience Paris of the Lost Generation and meet fascinating characters such as Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and Gerald and Sara Murphy. The city and its inhabitants provide a vivid backdrop to this engrossing and wrenching story of love and betrayal that is made all the more poignant knowing that, in the end, Hemingway would write of his first wife, “I wish I had died before I loved anyone but her.”
Well first I have a confession. I’ve never read Earnest Hemingway. I’ve browsed him and sort of read him but I’ve never read any of his books cover to cover. He’s just not my cup of tea. I don’t know if he’s just to masculine for me, I don’t know I just don’t get him. I totally understand why he renowned, I understand the power of his writing, it’s just not for me.
Yet, after reading this book I think I really do need to read, at the very least, A Moveable Feast. I will probably add The Sun Also Rises to my list, since that is the book he’s working on during the novel.
I did enjoy this book and it made me want to find out more about Hadley Hemingway. What it must of been to know Hemingway before he was Hemingway. And those heady, ultimately sad Paris days of the 20s. In my youth I used to think what wonderful, carefree days those must have been. Everyone drinking and discussing art and literature and ideals. After growing up and really thinking about it, and then after reading this book I see it must have been such a sad time where people seemed so lost still after WWI. Reading the Maisie Dobbs series I’ve thought more and more how awful the after effects of that war were to so many.
I really did love the character of Hadley. I know this was a fictionalization of her life but I do believe the author did a great amount of research so I felt like I did get to know her. I also got to know Hemingway on a different level than I used to think of him. Because we meet him before he’s Hemingway (a character I truly believe he created for himself and then became) I got to know a little about how he did become that character.
But, first and foremost, this was this is Hadley’s story and I could relate to her because so much of what she believed I believe. I understood a bit of her relationship and it made it all the harder when it fell to pieces and she tried so hard to keep the pieces together. I did wonder and was completely frustrated about some of the choices she made to try and save her marriage. I don’t believe I would have been capable of doing and excepting of the things she put up with.
This was such a well written book. I found myself so angry with characters who were callous and careless with one and others hearts. I was happy to know Hadley found happiness with the rest of her life. I was surprised how much I did enjoy this book and I’m so glad I bumped it ahead in my book line.
One last thing that struck me was how much these people traveled. Hadley and Hemingway were poor as church mice and yet they seemed to always be traveling. I guess it was cheaper and easier to travel then but boy, did it make me jealous.
I know there a people out there who don’t like when authors use historical character as a basis for the stories. I do really enjoy them. I take them a face value and usually they make me want to find out more about the person the story centers on, as well as others in the book. This book has just oodels (yes, I said oodles–I like the word) of actual people in this book and from what I know about most they are well represented by the author. I will definitely be on the lookout for more by Paula McLain.
I borrowed my copy of The Paris Wife from my local library.