Friday, December 27, 2013

The Paris Wife

My goal is to read 100 books by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 93.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Summary (via Goodreads):
A deeply evocative 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.
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 her life changes forever.  Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group - the fabled "Lost Generation" - that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.
Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill-prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy.  Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and his circle of friends into the novel that becomes The Sun Also Rises.  Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold on to her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging.  Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage - a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they've fought so hard for.
A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.

My Opinion:
What made this book engaging was the name recognition of all the characters, but knowing that they were real people added to the overall sadness of this book.  Although fictional, the author appears to have done her research and followed the timeline and events as accurately as possible.
I felt so sad for Hadley.  Hemingway had his demons and would have been impossible to live with at times, but he seemed to truly love her.  Although I don't make excuses for men that cheat, I will say that there seems to be a certain type of man that is very susceptible to women stroking their egos, and the women that deliberately prey on those men make me sick.  I don't like admitting it, but a small part of me was pleased to discover that Pauline found herself in the same position as Hadley as Hemingway overlapped relationships and married four times before ending his life.

Quote from the Book:
"You suffer for his career.  What do you get in the end?" [Kitty asked]
"The satisfaction of knowing he couldn't do it without me." [Hadley responded]

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