Time for another book review! And this time, for the first time in a long time, I actually managed to get my mittens on a copy of the month’s selection for the Pink Fibro Bookclub facebook group. And read it.
A+ for me! Thank you, thank you.
So here are my thoughts on The Paris Wife.
The Paris Wife / Paula McLain
Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness, until she meets Ernest Hemingway and finds herself captivated by his energy, intensity and literary ambition. After a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they soon fall in with a circle of lively and volatile expatriates, including F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound.
I had only seen good reviews of The Paris Wife. So I was eager to jump in and lose myself to the world of words, writing and the city of love.
It took me a while to get into this book. I almost put it aside. The early days of Hadley and Ernest’s relationship, the budding romance; it just didn’t capture me. But I’m not sure if that’s a fault of the book, or a reflection of my head space in early February. (I was exhausted, recovering from a rough run in January, and getting used to a new family routine.)
I pushed on. And I’m so glad I did. By the time Hadley and Ernest made the journey to Paris, I was lost in their world. The uneven love, the juxtaposition of their simultaneous dependence upon and frustrations with each other, and the final slide. Even if you don’t know the history, or if the book jacket didn’t warn you, you just know where the relationship is going. But you still have to read to find out how it finally gets there.
And, of course, the Parisian world of writers and writing. The ultimate hook. Even though it was told from the perspective of a ‘writing outsider’ rather than one of the literary greats themselves, it was compelling. Perhaps it was even more so because of it.
I was hooked. The way Ernest worked with and against his contemporaries. The way he embraced the traits he initially despised, becoming the stereotypical writer in all ways, not just with the pen. The subject matter would make this book an interesting read anyway, but McLain treats it all respectfully and writes it beautifully to boot.
- I was torn between wanting to know if I could trust Ernest, and wishing I could stay blind enough to keep things exactly as they were.
- The nest of fish was crisp under a coarse snow of salt and smelled so simple and good I thought they might save my life. Just a little. Just for that moment.
- It’s like someone has taken a broom to his insides and swept it out until everything’s clean and bright and hard and empty.
- I was the better skier but Ernest was the better devourer of anything new – new air, new mantle of eggshell snow.
- You couldn’t have real freedom unless you knew where the walls were and tended them. We could lean on the walls because they existed; they existed because we leaned on them.
I finished this book two weeks ago, and am still thinking about it. Highly recommended.
Have you read The Paris Wife? What did you think?