Oh my goodness, The Paris Wife by Paula McClain DEFINITELY kept me up past my bedtime.
It’s been such a crazy week, I barely had time to read (sorry for the vlog lovers!) which was *a bummer* because this book was so emotionally evocative and compelling that I loved every minute.
In case you didn’t know, Ernest Hemingway was a bit of a ladies’ man, he had four wives and three kids. Tragically, as many probably know, he killed himself. But The Paris Wife isn’t about him, it’s about his first wife, Hadley, and honestly, she’s a peach. Hadley was about eight years his senior and a shy but powerful woman, at least as per McClain.
She first met him in her late 20s and was swept away by his confidence. He was swept away by her steadiness. They were, as some of the other characters suggested, a strong couple who “did marriage right.”
Until they didn’t.
It’s the ending of the book, and their marriage, that was the most tragically compelling. And that’s because McClain write the characters so beautifully deep that I really felt for Hadley. I hurt with her. Heck, I hurt (less so) with Hemingway.
I loved how detailed McClain was with both the characters and the plot. It’s obvious she did a lot of research to flesh out Hadley’s Paris, her time in Canada, her time in Spain. And I loved how McClain explained in her author’s note that while she did the research, she wanted it to be her own story. Of course there were realistic elements—seeing the Hemingways interact with the Fitzgeralds and Gertrude Stein was fabulous; and seeing Hadley’s love for their son was endearing—but I loved how, to a degree, it could be anyone’s.
The Paris Wife is a beautiful story about a beautiful woman and the ups and downs of her famous, but somewhat forgotten first marriage. On that note, I also loved how McClain write an epilogue that gave us deeper insight into Hadley. The whole book is written in the first person, but this epilogue seemed extra special, almost as though she was really talking to us, the readers. It was lovely!
I definitely recommend this book to those who enjoy historical fiction. It was a deeply character focused, I loved it. There were discussions of sex and infidelity, but not in a way that I think should deter anyone.
That’s all I’ve got for now! Next week I have an Inkberry Books review of Danae Shanti’s book Wise Inside.