Dvora's Reviews > The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
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Jun 11, 2012

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bookshelves: france
Read from June 11 to 28, 2012

Having read Hemingway's A Moveable Feast and Diliberto's Paris Without End, I was pretty familiar with the story of Hemingway and his first wife Hadley Richardson. But it's an engaging story, certainly good enough for fiction so I was curious what McLain would make of it.

I would say she did very well. There is dialogue and there are events that she probably invented, although I wouldn't know how much might have been recorded in letters, etc. Still, even if you knew more or less what happened in that relationship, this fictional account of it is very believable -- that it to say, she doesn't put in anything that you know is just plain wrong and that would put you off. I hate when writers of historical fiction do that.

In fact, her relaying the story of the first Hemingway marriage through Hadley's voice is compelling and believable. You don't come out of it necessarily hating Hemingway's guts, as one might very well do upon reading a factual account of his betrayal of Hadley. No, you see it through her eyes and her eyes were very forgiving. She managed to get on with her life, and from all accounts, had a far happier life than Hemingway did with a very successful second marriage. But I don't think she ever hated Heminway and seemed to be able to sympathize with him throughout her ordeal and later throughout her life.
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