“Though I often looked for one, I finally had to admit that there could be no cure for Paris.” Isn’t that an inspired opening line? I, regrettably, just finished reading The Paris Wife and all I can do is sigh that it is over. Wow, I almost feel as if I just had 2 trips to Europe, one via a printed time machine, to those heady expatriate days I originally fell in love with while reading Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and A Moveable Feast. In this creative, fictionalized retelling of Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage, author Paula McLain has told a completely captivating tale of a time with which I could easily become utterly obsessed. Ok, maybe I already have.
A long time ago, I took a course, or two, on Hemingway and pretty much read everything he wrote. I had a bit of a conflict between my Women’s Studies minor and Papa’s misogynist ways, but overall, I was smitten. His use of language, his characters, the romanticism of the time period and the settings. I became an admirer and have never wavered in my affection for his talent, or my fascination with his life.
In the Paris Wife, McLain has beautifully recreated those days and tells the tale from Hadley* Richardson Hemingway’s perspective. The debauchery and drinking, the traveling from city to city, country to country, the presence of other famous literary personalities and characters… I absolutely could not stop reading this book. I was completely taken in by the story, one which was familiar to me from my studies, and truly feel as if I was given a bird’s-eye view to the birth and subsequent death of a marriage, along with the nearly mythical career of one of America’s finest writers.
Fascinating, well-researched and written, this is the best novel I’ve read since Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken. Get it.