Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

The Paris Wife is the story of Ernest Hemingway and his marriage to first wife Hadley Richardson. Wait let me back up. The Paris Wife is a book about Hadley Richardson and her marriage to Ernest Hemingway. It's from Hadley's perspective with a few intercepting chapters of Ernest's perspective. The book mostly takes place in 1920's Paris (though they do travel quite a bit), so you get a glimpse of that time period which is absolutely fascinating to me (as well as Ernest).

I really liked Hadley at first. I thought she was so much like me. We both lost our fathers at a young age; We both fell out of a window as children; We were both named Elizabeth (though she went by Hadley); And we were both late bloomers of sorts, but that's where the similarities end.

I loved Hadley and Ernest's love story at the beginning and I can see why Hadley was so taken by Ernest. I think it might have been impossible not to fall in love with Ernest. Soon after their marriage began, however, I started feeling annoyed with Hadley. She seemed so needy. Now, I tried to remember that she was a newlywed and that she missed her husband when he went away for work, but I hated that her whole life revolved around him. Now, again, I tried to remember that she was a newlywed and that she lived in a different era, but still I couldn't help but feel bad for her and not in a compassionate way either. I just felt sorry that she was so pathetic. When Ernest started acting like a jerk and being unfaithful, Hadley bugged me even more for not leaving the relationship and for the third time, yes, I know it was a different era and things were different, but the thing is that she was surrounded, if not, part of the lost generation in the roaring 1920's. I just wish she would have stood her ground more in the relationship and done more for herself.

I love historical fiction and this book does a fine job at capturing this time period and though it is no secret that Hadley's marriage to Ernest ends in divorce because we know he had two more marriages after this one (no spoiler there), I felt frustrated with Hadley throughout the book. Even so, it is always great to take a peek at history through a book and get a glimpse into the lives of the people of that time, the choices they made, and how they felt. For those reasons I loved this book.

Until next time!