Skip to main content
PBS logo
 
 

Search - The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife
The Paris Wife
Author: Paula McLain
A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures the 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. Following a whirlwind co...  more »
Info icon
ISBN-13: 9780345521316
ISBN-10: 0345521315
Publication Date: 11/27/2012
Pages: 331
Rating:
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 99

3.6 stars, based on 99 ratings
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed The Paris Wife on + 379 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
It is not surprising that Nancy Horan enthusiastically endorses this book since it is remarkably similar to her book, Loving Frank, about Frank Lloyd Wright. Both FLW and Ernest Hemingway were driven to succeed at any cost, and both were amazingly oblivious to the needs of everyone in their lives.

Hadley Hemingway was a victim of her obsession with Ernest and lived in his shadow until he tired of her. It is difficult to feel empathy for someone who so willingly subjugated herself to her husband, and I was incredulous about what she endured at the end of their marriage when Pauline became the third member of their marriage.

The seemingly dissolute lifestyle of the generation of writers who lived in Paris during the 1920s was lamentable because their excesses took precedence over their literary talents. I found the recounting of these excesses eventually became tiresome, and I simply couldnt summon much interest in what happened to Ernest or Hadley. Although fictionalized, this book apparently is an accurate reflection of Hemingways first marriage
paigu avatar reviewed The Paris Wife on + 120 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
It was difficult to read this book told from Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley's, experience. Hadley marries Hemingway after a hasty whirlwind courtship (he literally sweeps/dances her off her feet during her first visit to the "big city" of Chicago), but she starts off already counting her own disadvantages. Hadley suspects she's too old, too frumpy, too "dumb" (she is not a writer or artist like Hem and all his acquaintances) for him, and she pretty much puts herself into the defensive position of trying to "retain" Hemingway and keep on being his wife. Not good.

Since this is sort of historical fiction, most of us already know of Hemingway's macho character, his womanizing/drinking ways, and his depression (and ultimate suicide). This is no gentle recount of "Papa" Hemingway, nor is it a fluffy view of his marriage to Hadley. I am not familiar with Hadley nor Hemingway's first marriage but the author does posit that Hemingway did credit his fame (publishing "The Sun Also Rises") to her. To be honest, Hadley lucked out sort of because Hemingway gave her some slack (he mentions her as being the best thing that happened to him, etc... in his memoirs) because I don't feel Hadley would have had it in her to fight Hemingway with a messy divorce.

Worth a read to see the genesis of a lot of Hemingway's books. The bohemian, heavy drinking, partying, loving lifestyle of the Left Bank artists may seem unrealistic to some of us, but this book paints it quite vividly that it is a pleasure to read.
Tesstarosa avatar reviewed The Paris Wife on + 151 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
At age 28, Hadley Richardson is not likely to get married. But she travels to Chicago and meets 21 year-old Ernest Hemingway. A courtship begins via letter, they eventually marry and then move to Paris so that Ernest can pursue focus on his writing.

This story is told from the point-of-view of Hadley, Hemingways first wife, and what their life in Paris during the 1920s was like. While in Paris, they meet and befriend Gertrude Stein and her lover, Alice Toklas, Ezra Pound and F Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, among others.

Hemingway is fairly controlling but Hadley grew up with a controlling mother and had been living with her sister, who was like her mother and very controlling with her husband. Neither had happy marriages and Hadley did not want her marriage to be like either of theirs.

Hadley is supportive of Hemingway throughout the marriage and their life is Paris is not easy. They dont have a lot of money and Hemingway often has trouble writing. Then, Hadley becomes pregnant while they were on vacation and she had forgotten her birth control.

It would appear they will get through these struggles until Hadley befriends Pauline, a friend of one of Hadleys childhood friends who is in Paris. Pauline is the first of Hadleys friends that Ernest can tolerate and she starts to join the Hemingways at their home and on vacations. Until Hadley cannot handle the arrangement and demands a divorce.

I enjoyed this book. The writing is beautiful and the story is well-told.
reviewed The Paris Wife on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Disappointing. I very likely won't finish it. Too much soap opera. I would have been happier with a historical treatment of the topic than a fictionalized account of the Hemingways' courtship and marriage. I didn't find the dialogue believable. Some have enjoyed this book, it just wasn't my cup of tea.
reviewed The Paris Wife on + 20 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
4 stars--`This book offered an interesting, insightful look at Ernest Hemingway. Nothing here convinced me he was a charming man, but it does show his drive, determination, and singleness of purpose. He used his experiences to give a stark, gritty realism to his work.
I liked the book very much.
Read All 33 Book Reviews of "The Paris Wife"

Please Log in to Rate these Book Reviews

wiltinglilly avatar reviewed The Paris Wife on + 33 more book reviews
Loved this book, a very interesting perspective of the early career of Ernest Hemingway. It, as expected, is sad at times but what a life they lived! Throughout his career Hemingway seemed to travel all across Europe. I'm not sure how much of the book is factual and how much is the author, but either way it is a good read. Would definitely recommend.
reviewed The Paris Wife on + 2 more book reviews
I thought this was a great book, entertaining, enlightening, so nice to read about Hemingway with accurate historical detail, but from the perspective of his first wife. I highly recommend!
reviewed The Paris Wife on + 1103 more book reviews
I thought the author did a great job of giving the reader the feel of Paris during the Roaring Twenties. I did not know much about Hemmingway coming into this book. It was fun to escape to another place for a while and to see how drastically different the lifestyles of Hadley's family of origin and the "fast set" were.
stephkayeturner avatar reviewed The Paris Wife on + 33 more book reviews
This is a difficult book for me to rate.

In terms of the story, it's one of the oldest cliches in the book, so to speak: young writer marries woman who gives up her life and identity to support his career; he becomes famous and leaves her for a more image-conscious woman who fits his new vision of himself. The interesting part is that the young writer is Ernest Hemingway, and the narrator is his poor first wife, Hadley Richardson. You meet them, and all their friends: Gertrude Stein; F. Scott Fitzgerald and his "golden girl," Zelda; Ezra Pound; John Dos Passos; and so on. You learn that The Sun Also Rises was based entirely on a true story, except that Hemingway wrote his wife out of it, then gave her all the royalties.

In terms of the writing: on one hand, there is some very good writing here, including some top-notch Hemingway imitations. On the other hand, there are some really tired cliches, and a lot of "he said," "she said." Hadley is an an exasperating Pollyanna at times: was she really that trite, or is this a weakness on Paula McClain's part? Hard to say, but frustrating to listen to.

At any rate, if you are interested in Hemingway's Paris life, you will enjoy at least parts of The Paris Wife.
kalle avatar reviewed The Paris Wife on + 2 more book reviews
An extraordinarily well written book that is an absolute delight. A book to be savored. McClain's style reflects Hemingway's straightforward economy of words to very good effect. Although a piece of fiction, one senses that it is largely historically accurate.
sfc95 avatar reviewed The Paris Wife on + 686 more book reviews
This was an interesting story of how life must have been like for the artistic in the 1920's. A lot was lost on me as I am not familiar with the European places and therefore it was tough for me to get into and I could not read it as fast as I enjoy reading a book. But the story was good, the ending made the entire book. All in all I am glad I took the time to read it.
redwingsgal avatar reviewed The Paris Wife on
A strong, emotionally charged read. I couldn't put it down. Time and place--along with a complete matched set of emotional baggage-- are virtually characters in their own right, pushing a story that is as much a tragedy as a romance.

Book Wiki

Common Title
People/Characters
Hadley Richardson Hemingway (Primary Character)
Ernest Hemingway (Primary Character)
Gertrude Stein (Average Character)
Alice Toklas (Average Character)

Genres: