**spoiler alert** I have always had trouble viewing Ernest Hemingway sympathetically or even favorably. Intellectually, I understand why he was an imp**spoiler alert** I have always had trouble viewing Ernest Hemingway sympathetically or even favorably. Intellectually, I understand why he was an important writer. When I read his work, it doesn't excite the same awe and admiration other people seem to experience -- as Hadley Richardson does in The Paris Wife. I think he was an overrated narcissist. (Yes, yes, cue shocked gasps and irate Hemingway zealots.) So I identified with Hadley, not only because I'm completely nonplussed by Hemingway but also because she is so much like me.
It starts as a beautiful love story with hope and promise and what everyone wants in a marriage. And then it unravels. It becomes harder to read and more heart-rending the deeper you go in the novel. At the same time, you realize the honesty of what Hemingway said about Hadley: that she was "so good and strong and true." She handles the chaos he brings everywhere beautifully, even when it nearly destroys her.
The Paris Wife is beautifully written, and it made me want to try to read Hemingway again. I hated The Old Man and the Sea (actually cried when I realized I was only a third of the way through, and I love to read), I was disappointed in A Farewell to Arms, and I've been stuck in The Sun Also Rises since last Christmas. Maybe knowing what he left out of Sun will make it more poignant. And I do want to see what he has to say about Hadley herself in A Moveable Feast. I'm hoping that knowing more about Hemingway's story (contrived though some of it is) will help me understand -- and maybe even like -- his work better.
I hope McLain writes more similar novels. I wanted to hate Pauline, but I couldn't. I would love to hear her perspective. Maybe the wives of Hemingway will become as fascinating as the wives of Henry VIII; after all, they all had to put up with terrifically awful husbands....more
I've seen a few reviews saying that this book was a disappointment because it covered the same period as The White Queen. I disagree. Margaret BeauforI've seen a few reviews saying that this book was a disappointment because it covered the same period as The White Queen. I disagree. Margaret Beaufort is a completely different woman from Elizabeth Woodville, and it's interesting to see the same story play out through a different perspective. That said, Margaret annoyed me. I tried to like her, and when she had human emotions, I felt little glimmers of sympathy. But mostly, I was irritated by her piousness, her conviction that she and God wanted the same things, her belief that God loved her more than others, and the close-minded manner in which she deals with the people around her. (She could have learned a lot from that second husband if she'd bothered to try.) I guess the real woman might have HAD to be like that to get Henry Tudor on the throne, and the course of history would have been drastically if she were a delightful and accommodating person. But I was relieved at the end of the book that I could escape her....more
I understood how this book won awards, but personally, I just didn't really like it. Maybe it will improve upon a second read -- but I think it will bI understood how this book won awards, but personally, I just didn't really like it. Maybe it will improve upon a second read -- but I think it will be a while before I undertake it....more