The Paris Wife by Paula McLain


The Paris Wife is a fictionalised story about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife Hadley. Hadley was 28 when she and Hemingway met, and had really given up on the idea of a big romance, when Hemingway came into her life and swept her off her feet.  The married and went to live in Paris which was a Mecca for many creative people.  They became friends with Ezra Pound, Zelda & F Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein amongst others.  It was a hugely sophisticated and exciting time to be an artist in Paris.  At first their lives are happy, and the birth of their son gives them both much pleasure.   During this time, Ernest is writing stories and a novel, but he is also working as a reporter, and is constantly coming and going.  They have their ups and downs, and Hadley struggles to keep up with and be understanding of the creative temperament.  But Ernest, as is well known, had a wandering eye, and soon Hadley is battling jealousy and feelings of betrayal.  While we are sympathetic to Hadley’s plight, McLain doesn’t portray Hemingway as a totally hateful character. It’s a fine line to tread with his repeated infidelities and eventual leaving of Hadley and their son.   A very enjoyable book. $30

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