Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book Review-The Paris Wife

I check the Best Seller's list every week as part of my job of buying books for the library.  Oftentimes, a book is on the best seller list more because of the author than the book itself, so I don't make a habit of reading everything that lands on the best seller list.  Occasionally, though, a title by a little known author shows up and stays for many weeks or months.  At that point I get interested because it is probably on the list because the book is good.
I recently picked up (or, in this case, downloaded) a book that had been on a Best Seller list for some time, The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain.  It is the fictionalized autobiography of Hadley Richardson Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway's first wife.  The story is told in the first person by Hadley, and although it is fiction it stays very close to fact.  Ms. McLain used Hemingway's letters, a biography of Hadley, and other source material to keep it as true to life as possible.
The story starts out with Hadley shortly after her mother dies.  Her mother was a domineering woman who believed that Hadley was frail so kept her from really participating in life.  Hadley's older sister was also a bit disapproving of Hadley's attempts at enjoying herself.  Hadley decides to visit her friend Kate in Chicago.  Kate's brother has an apartment and hosts parties almost every night (despite it being during Prohibition).  At one of these parties Hadley meets a man 8 years younger than she but years more mature...Ernest Hemingway.  He is smitten with her and they start a correspondance once Hadley returns home to St. Louis.  They visit each other a few times and write daily.  Ernest wants to go to Rome to write, which causes Hadley some worry...until he proposes.  A friend suggests Paris as the place to be, so after they are married they save money while Ernest works as a reporter, then move to Paris.
Once in Paris they meet other expats and Ernest starts to write.  Hadley is not as fashionable as the other women they meet, but she and Ernest have a deep love and he prefers a simple life. 
The Paris Wife The Paris Wife
By McLain, Paula
2011-02 - Ballantine Books
9780345521309 Check Our Catalog BookPage Notable Title

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.
HPL patron:  After a recent trip to Paris, this book caught my eye.  I knew nothing about Hemingway's time in Paris but wanted to draw a connection to my recent sight-seeing excursions and one of America's reknowned authors.  This "historical fiction" novel was fun to see a wife's perspective of events, very true to nonfiction accounts.

Other books by the same author.
Like Family: Growing Up in Other People's Houses Like Family: Growing Up in Other People's Houses
By McLain, Paula
2004-05 - Back Bay Books
9780316909099 Check Our Catalog

In the tradition of Jo Ann Beard's "Boys of My Youth," and Mary Karr's"The""Liar's Club," Paula McLain has written a powerful and haunting memoir about the years she and her two sisters spent as foster children. In the early 70s, after being abandoned by both parents, the girls were made wards of the Fresno County, California court and spent the next 14 years-in a series of adoptive homes. The dislocations, confusions, and odd pleasures of an unrooted life form the basis of a captivating memoir. McLain's beautiful writing and limber voice capture the intense loneliness, sadness, and determination of a young girl both on her own and responsible, with her siblings, for staying together as a family. …More

A Ticket to Ride A Ticket to Ride
By McLain, Paula
2009-01 - Harper Perennial
9780061340529 Check Our Catalog

McLains debut novel, set in the summer of 1973, tells the story of an insecure and motherless teenager who falls under the dangerous spell of her older cousin. …More

Complimentary Reads
A Moveable Feast A Moveable Feast
By Hemingway, Ernest
Preface by Hemingway, Ernest
1996-05 - Scribner Book Company
9780684824994 Check Our Catalog

This vibrant portrait of Paris in the 1920s, published posthumously in 1964, is vintage Hemingway--evocative, self-mocking and frank. In an extraordinary chronicle of the sights, sounds, and tastes of Paris in a bygone era, Hemingway offers readers a view of his life and the people that populated his expatriate world--Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound and other literary luminaries. …More

Paris Without End: The True Story of Hemingway's First Wife Paris Without End: The True Story of Hemingway's First Wife
By Diliberto, Gioia
2011-09 - Harper Perennial
9780062108821 Check Our Catalog

Hadley Richardson and Ernest Hemingway were the golden couple of Paris in the twenties, the center of an expatriate community boasting the likes of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, and James and Nora Joyce. In this haunting account of the young Hemingways, Gioia Diliberto explores their passionate courtship, their family life in Paris with baby Bumby, and their thrilling, adventurous relationship--a literary love story scarred by Hadley's loss of the only copy of Hemingway's first novel and ultimately destroyed by a devastating mEnage A trois on the French Riviera.
Compelling, illuminating, poignant, and deeply insightful, "Paris Without End" provides a rare, intimate glimpse of the writer who so fully captured the American imagination and the remarkable woman who inspired his passion and his art--the only woman Hemingway never stopped loving. …More

The Sun Also Rises The Sun Also Rises
By Hemingway, Ernest
2006-10 - Scribner Book Company
9780743297332 Check Our Catalog

Capturing the angst of the post-World War I generation, known as the Lost Generation, this poignantly beautiful story is now released in an 80th anniversary edition. …More

Clara and Mr. Tiffany Clara and Mr. Tiffany
By Vreeland, Susan
2011-01 - Random House
9781400068166 Check Our Catalog BookPage Notable Title

The "New York Times"-bestselling author of "The Girl in Hyacinth Blue"creates a dynamic portrait of Clara Driscoll: lead designer for Louis Comfort Tiffany (famous for Tiffany lamps) and a woman conflicted between her desires for artistic recognition and romantic love. …More

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