Title: The Paris Wife Author: Paula McLain Publisher: February 22nd 2011 by Ballantine Books Format: Hardcover, 314 pages Genre: Historical Fiction
If it were not for all the silly nicknames in this book, I would have loved it. Nicknames are a pet peeve of mine, they are reminiscent of a person thinking, “If I call you something else, I will not have to think of you as the individual that you are”.
This is a fictionalized tale of Hadley Richardson Hemmingway, the first wife of Ernest. Beginning when she was 29 and he an energetic 21 year old, the book covers their first meeting and their six years of their marriage, and ending when he tossed her aside for another woman.
That really is not giving anything away; a quick wiki search will tell you everything that was covered in this book.
Hadley comes across as quite boring, but when she is in the present of the up and coming writers and poets of 1920’s Paris, she seems to take on a completely new persona. She is one of them; she has a purpose and a place. It is in the darker times, when Ernest is away writing and she is left with no money and no glamour you see her for who she is.
Very much a “woman behind the man” book, Hadley loses herself, her identity. She is so wrapped up in his life that I wonder if she was totally cognizant of the abuse that he was putting her through. Every failure of his was somehow her fault, what she did was never good enough. When he wrote he would mention everyone except her. It was not until a blatant affair that Hadley’s eyes were fully opened.
In the end, I think Hadley won. She had to step aside and remove herself from the destruction that was Ernest Hemingway and in so doing, she found a life that seemed to have been rewarding.