Mary Novaria's Reviews > The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
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's review
Sep 30, 2011

really liked it
Read in January, 2012

As my friend Jay said in his review of this book, "timing is everything." For me, having twice seen--and really enjoyed--Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" in 2011, I was ripe for more of that 1920s, ex-pat, writers' world. The Paris Wife delivers and, even though it's a novel, it's about real people--mostly the Hemingways, but also the Fitzgeralds, Stein and Toklas, Ezra Pound--and we suspect most of the stories are true. You never know what's really said during pillow talk so, obviously, conversations and thoughts are re-created, but McClain sure makes them credible. We know that Hemingway was a womanizer, depressive and S.O.B., that he, Scott Fitzgerald (and probably most of that group) spent too much time soused and brooding and it's all confirmed in the novel. I was amused by how modern so many of the women purported to be when, really, they still were constantly used and abused by the men. Told from Hadley's point of view, The Paris Wife lets us peek in the windows, sit at the dinner tables, travel to Paris and Pamplona, and lift a glass with one of history's great literary icons. Somehow, despite Hem's cheating, drinking, and supreme selfishness, I could still share in Hadley's heartbreak and reluctance to just walk away.
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