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The Paris Wife

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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  130,121 ratings  ·  14,935 reviews
A deeply evocative story 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. Followi...more
Hardcover, 314 pages
Published February 22nd 2011 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Petra Xtra Crunchy
Several lessons to be learned from Ernest Hemingway's first wife on how he got his second one:

1) If you can't be sweet and submissive at least be lively and rich.
2) If you still have post-pregnancy weight from a baby your husband didn't really want and have to stay in to look after it, then don't let the lively and rich (and better-dressed) woman come on holiday with you. Regularly.
3) If you wake up to find that you and your husband have been joined by a naked female on his side of the bed - wha...more
Lena Hillbrand
The Paris Wife made me remember why I love historical fiction so much. McLain not only captures the atmosphere, but she does it with striking prose. I was not surprised to learn she'd published a book of poetry prior to this.
I just finished this book and I'm a little overwhelmed by it, but I'll do my best to form coherent thoughts. First of all, I cannot stress enough what an amazing job the author did of capturing the atmosphere of post-war Paris. Not that I was there to experience it, but aft...more
Brad
I've never been a fan of fictionalized works of authors' lives, and the fact that The Paris Wife recounts my favourite author's life during the writing of my favourite book of all time, The Sun Also Rises, antagonized the hell out of me. It didn't bode well.

But I promised my sister I'd give it a go; she wanted me to read it because we'd just read A Moveable Feast together, and she sent me the hardcover that she'd read for a recent book club. I couldn't say no.

Then, straight away, Paula McLain p...more
Karla
Nov 04, 2010 Karla rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: if you absolutely must read everything Hemingway
ARC won on Goodreads Giveaway

Maybe a reader has to be a Hemingway fan to enjoy this book, but I've sometimes found the artist interesting even if I don't give a fig for their art. Sometimes an author has even given me a new appreciation for someone I was previously ambivalent about. This didn't happen here, and I found the prose so flat and uninvolving that I bailed on page 207. It didn't seem worth the time and effort to continue.

It's a straightforward novelization of Hadley Hemingway's life wi...more
Sheila
Dear Hadley Richardson,

I will admit that having just finished this historical novel about your marriage to Ernest Hemingway, I have now googled you and read a wikipedia article about your life. I am happy to read that you apparently lived happily ever after with your second husband out of the limelight, and died an old woman at the age of 87.

But I just have to say, Hadley, when you were asleep naked in bed with your husband Ernest, and Pauline crawled into his side of the bed with him, why in th...more
JoAnne Pulcino
The PARIS WIFE is a mesmerizing novel about Paris in the 1920’s featuring the bohemian “Lost Generation”. It is the touching and heartbreaking story of the love affair and marriage of literature’s original “bad boy” Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson Hemingway.
Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding , the deeply in love couple sail to Paris where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound and F. Scott and Zelda Fi...more
Rose
3 stars only because I didn't know much about them, so I learned some things.

To me, this book felt flat.

Like a travel diary with lots of name dropping.
We went _____, we met _____.

I didn't really feel for Hadley.
I didn't really feel for young Ernest.

She lost him to another woman.
She was better off anyway.

Favorite:
In the epilogue, Hadley, who's moved on with her life, described him as an "enigma - fine and strong and weak and cruel. An incomparable friend and a Sonofabitch".
Lauren
Nov 11, 2011 Lauren rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Lauren by: Novel Ideas- November pick
Shelves: kindle, library
This one just wasn't really my cup of tea. The beginning was alright, but after Hadley and Ernest get married I lost interest. I really had an issue with Hadley's character and I wasn't sympathetic towards her at all. She was such a whiny pushover. Now that I think about it I don't know if she was just a product of the times- old fashioned and hell bent on staying married even though your husband is a complete prick- or just really that pathetic? Ernest was sort of a self absorbed, vain, asshole...more
Gail
I've written a review of Hemingway's "Farewell to Arms" somewhere in this Goodreads stack of mine. And if you're someone who's ever read it, then you know that I'm not the No. 1 fan of Hemingway's prose. Too short. Too terse. Too chauvinistic. Too...you get the idea.

BUT (and it's a big but here, like Sir-Mix-A-Lot big), I am FASCINATED by Hemingway the author. I have to say, "The Paris Wife" only made me that much MORE fascinated. Did I mention I'm also in love with Paris? And that, if I were on...more
E.c. Pollick
After watching Midnight in Paris, I found myself on a nostalgia kick. I rummaged through my bookshelves and pulled out everything I owned by T.S. Eliot, Fitzgerald and Hemingway. When I saw “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain on the New York Times Bestseller’s List, I knew I had to read it while Hemingway’s material was still fresh in my mind.

Told through Hadley Hemingway’s perspective (Ernest’s first wife), the story starts with the couple’s meeting and continues to their eventual divorce six year...more
Emily
Fascinating historical novel about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife (of four) Hadley Richardson. I didn't know much about Hemingway, their social circle of artists/writers (including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein among others) in Paris, and their skewed "modern" views on marriage and life, so this intrigued me. This is partly a love story, but cannot be read for that, or one would walk away disappointed. As with most(?) brilliant creators, Hemingway was egotistical and loved his work...more
Clif Hostetler
A storybook romance--a match made in heaven--surely it would last a lifetime, but it didn't. This is the story of Ernest Hemingway's first marriage that includes the years of his early writing career. It is told in the first person voice of Hadley, his first wife (first of four). The basic facts, movements and accomplishments of their relationship are well documented by previous biographies and memoirs. This book is written as historical fiction, and is thus able to make the story come alive in...more
Corri
It took me a long time to get into this book and it really wasn't until the 2nd half that I was hooked...or at least understood what a really amazing job the author did in this fictionalized "memoir" of Hemingway's first wife's years with him.

I did find a couple of things to be lacking. First, in the book, Hadley Richardson seems to take their lifestyle for granted. While they live in near poverty, they are able to afford a great deal of travel throughout Europe, employing domestic help, and oft...more
Cheryl
"He didn't know how love managed to be a garden one moment and war the next."

"He loved them both and that's where the pain came in."

Musings of Ernest Hemingway written by Paula McLain in THE PARIS WIFE, an historical novel of his five year marriage to Hadley Richardson before the fame of The Sun Also Rises.

What kind of partner does the twenty-one year old Ernest require while standing in the wings of fame and fortune? He has married Hadley after a brief courtship, eight years his senior, conser...more
Jay
Oct 12, 2011 Jay rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jay by: NPR Review
Often, timing is everything. At least it was for me when it came to Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife. I probably would have passed it by if I had not, several months after its debut, impulsively picket up a copy of The Old Man and the Sea on Barnes and Noble’s discount table.

When I first heard the review of The Paris Wife on NPR on March 1 2011, Hemingway and his works were distant encounters during my teen years in the 1950s. Although novels as The Sun Also Rises and For Whom the Bell Tolls were,...more
Rachel Thomas
I didn't get this book read before my book club discussion, and I was surprised to find that everyone loved the book. I figured I'd keep reading because it must get better, and I spent time in Cuba and toured Hemingway's home and favorite bars and now somehow feel closer to him. I have been sadly disappointed in the book, however, and committed to finishing the book to figure out what I don't like about it.

While I enjoy the story of Ernest Hemingway and the socio-historic context, I don't feel c...more
Gary  the Bookworm
This is a very confounding novel to write about. Maybe it was intentionally dull for the first three quarters. It eventually achieved a level of conviction as the marriage between Hadley and Ernest Hemingway began to tank. It's as if Hadley couldn't reflect on her married life until it was lost to her.
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It was like reading two separate books. The first part is filled with stilted prose and the daily drivel of everyday life. It isn't until she and Hemingway return to Spain- the inspiration for Th...more
Beej
Lookie there. There's something I don't do often; I gave this book a five star rating. And it deserved it. This is the story of the Paris wife. Hadley Hemingway. But more than that, it's the story of Ernest before he became larger than life, when he was the young newlywed, planning on a great life with a beautiful and charming bride. Planning on writing THE novel, planning on becoming THE writer, which he did. But as soon as his talent became well respected, his personna and his personal life be...more
Bette BookAddict

This novel is written in the first person narrative of Hadley Richardson, the first wife of Ernest Hemingway. I don't know why or even how but Hadley sat in my lounge room with me and told me her story. I actually heard her voice while I read this novel: sorry, I mean, she told me their story.

At 28, Hadley is a shy girl feeling defeated by life when she meets a young Ernest Hemingway. Just beginning his life as a writer, 21yr old Ernest is fresh back from the war, self possessed and vibrant but...more
Suzanne
Hemingway was a great writer and a star to his generation. As I read The Paris Wife I never understood why Hadley married a boy who had a fling with her best friend. The character Hadley is somewhat of a naive nebbish. She knows that she is robbing the cradle. She follows him; supports him: admires him; and does nothing herself. Her accidental pregnancy probably wasn't an accident.
The Hemingway's hung out with talented self centered people of means. Hadley lost herself and tried to morph into Er...more
Kim

Hadley Richardson was the first of Ernest Hemingway’s four wives and this is her fictional memoir. It starts in Chicago, where the naïve Hadley meets and falls in love with Hemingway and ends with Hadley’s account of the last conversation she had with Hemingway before he committed suicide in 1961. The focus of the novel is on Hadley and Hemingway’s life in Paris in the 1920s as Hemingway pursued his dream of becoming a successful writer, and on the eventual breakdown of their relationship.

McLai...more
Suzanne Stroh
I'm willing to admit my expectations were too high. But this was truly awful. As in practically unreadable. And look at the sales figures! Well, good for Paula McLain. Now for my review.

This is a classic case of historical fiction that stays too close to its source material, and then suffers under comparison with it. [I want to thank a reader with comments, below, who helped me clarify my judgment so that I could add that key sentence to this review.]

Having read everything by and about Hemingway...more
Deanna also on Leafmarks because I miss Marco
I struggled to finish this book. That is very unusual for me. It was interesting to view the life and actions of artists/writers that are still admired today. That was all. The writing was tedious. She should have taken some pointers from Hemmingway's style of writing. I did not like anyone in this book, especially his wife, the subject of this book. She was an accomplished pianist, but she did NOTHING. She drank and partied. They could only aford a small one bed-room apt. in Paris. They shared...more
Ellie
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain is a fictional memoir of Ernest Hemingway's first marriage, told from the point of view of his wife, Hadley. It begins with a shy, reclusive mid-western Hadley meeting Hemingway in the U.S.A. and moves quickly into their marriage and their years in Paris (with a few side trips to Canada where she has their son and Spain for the running of the bulls).

McLain creates vivid characters and it is hard to remember at times that this is fiction and not non-fiction. I parti...more
switterbug (Betsey)
At the end of Ernest Hemingway's memoir, A Moveable Feast , he writes of his first wife, Hadley Richardson, "I wish I had died before I loved anyone but her." After their divorce, Hemingway goes on to have three more wives, each one standing in the shadows, waiting for him to dissolve his present vows. This is the story of the woman that loved him before he was famous.

Paula McLain researched their biographies, letters, and Hemingway's novels, culling the material to imagine a credible story of t...more
Michael
Forget everything you know about Ernest Hemingway because Paula McLain has set out to change that in The Paris Wife. This stunning novel follows a fictionalised account of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley Richardson. McLain’s version of Hemingway starts off as a tender man, with a crush on an older woman; he is persistent and full of love; nothing like what I know of the man.

The Paris Wife begins in the Chicago in 1920; it is here we meet Hadley and Ernest. Slowly we watch the two fell...more
Bookclubcheerleader
The Lost Generation Revisited

Summary: Welcome to the romantic world of 1920s Paris—filled with artists, flappers and ‘The Lost Generation’. And who is our host? The un-glamorous , old-fashioned, yet steadfast Hadley Richardson Hemingway—first wife of the infamous bigger-than-life writer, Ernest Hemingway. And that’s just the first of many paradoxes to come.

Although McLain covers some of the same territory as The Movable Feast and to a lesser degree, The Sun Also Rises, this fictional account all...more
Liza Lawler
Written carefully with lovely prose, Paula McClain's debut novel examines the marriage of the writer Ernest Hemmingway to his first wife Hadley, or "The Paris Wife."

The story, which mostly takes place in Paris after WWI, is told through the eyes of Hadley, and I began to dislike her by the time I was a 1/3 of the way through the book. I thought it was perhaps because she didn't have a real passion of her own or life outside of being Ernest's constant cheerleader, or that everything happened TO h...more
Sue
Jul 25, 2013 Sue rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: followers of Hemingway and the 1920s in Paris
This fictionalized memoir of Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley, and their years among the "important" people of Paris of the 20s, provides a very interesting glimpse into the life of the writer, those around him and the cost of being part of that world. McLain provides information re her sources in her afterword, among them Hemingway's own memoir of those same years, A Moveable Feast.

Hadley, 8 years older than Hemingway, is in love, swept off her feet by the struggling artist and seems to se...more
Arnie
Aug 25, 2013 Arnie rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: I wouldn't.
Normally I decide within a page or two if I'm going to read a book. If I decide to read it, I normally will, but have stopped reading some books at thirty or forty pages. I'm getting older and life is short. I actually read about 90 pages of this because the writing style was pretty good, and it seemed that the real story about Hemingway, Paris, and the Lost Generation would start soon. Instead, I kept reading about Hemingway's chest hair. Enough is enough, the book was too chickliterash for my...more
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Was the prologue really necessary? 2 22 Oct 16, 2014 11:16AM  
Mansfield Public ...: The"The Paris Wife" review by Anne Hope Clausen 1 1 Aug 07, 2014 06:01PM  
Do you think that Ernest really loved Haley? 41 714 Jun 25, 2014 10:14AM  
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  • Hemingway's Girl
  • The Shoemaker's Wife
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Paula McLain has published two collections of poetry, “Less of Her” and “Stumble, Gorgeous,” both from New Issues Poetry Press, and a memoir entitled “Like Family: Growing Up in Other People's Houses” (Little, Brown, 2003). “A Ticket to Ride,” is her debut novel from Ecco/HarperCollins. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan in 1996, and has since been a writer-in-residence...more
More about Paula McLain...
A Ticket to Ride Like Family: Growing Up in Other People's Houses: A Memoir Stumble, Gorgeous Less of Her: Poems The Dirty Napkin (Volume 1.2, Spring 2008)

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“It gave me a sharp kind of sadness to think that no matter how much I loved him and tried to put him back together again, he might stay broken forever.” 83 likes
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