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The Paris Wife

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3.79  ·  Rating details ·  210,336 Ratings  ·  19,005 Reviews
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. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fit ...more
Paperback, 392 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Virago Press (UK) (first published 2011)
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  • The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
    The Paris Wife
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    Release date: Nov 27, 2012
    Enter to win 1 of 5 paperback copies of Paula McLain's bestselling novel, THE PARIS WIFE!

    A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris
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    C.A. MacLea The idea of genius is a matter of opunion. The stereotype of tourtured artist might be unsavory to some, romantic to others. It exists for a reason.…more The idea of genius is a matter of opunion. The stereotype of tourtured artist might be unsavory to some, romantic to others. It exists for a reason. I dont think it is required to be full of demons to be a creative genius, though adversity and flaws do build character or content. And it is human. So too are family life, relationships, other hobbies and things to ponder. Some writers, actors, musicians, dancers pursue their craft so obsessively, all else is falls away. Some use other aspects of living to fuel or balance their artistic pursuits. (Since it was asked.)(less)
    Marcy Yes. I had the same problem but it really picked up and I found myself googling bits and pieces. I really learned a lot.

    Community Reviews

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    Petra Eggs
    Mar 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: fiction, reviewed
    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
    May 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Recommends it for: see review
    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
    Sep 30, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Jaline
    Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: 2017-completed
    I was in Grade 8 at school when I read “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway. I also read the other few of his books that were on the shelf. We didn’t have a library in our school – the bookshelves lined the back wall of the classroom, and when I close my eyes I can see the shelf where his books lined up. The writing was amazing and I was completely captivated by the stories. I also remember seeing photographs of the grizzly author with his white hair and beard, wearing glasses and a very ser ...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".
    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
    Lauren
    Oct 12, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Madeline
    "It was sometimes painful for me to think that to those who followed his life with interest, I was just the early wife, the Paris wife. But that was probably vanity, wanting to stand out in a long line of women. In truth, it didn't matter what others saw. We knew what we had and what it meant, and though so much had happened since for both of us, there was nothing like those years in Paris, after the war. Life was painfully pure and simple and good, and I believe Ernest was his best self then. I ...more
    E.c. Pollick
    Jun 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Gail
    Jan 09, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Mandy
    Aug 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Right in the feels... The end of this book tore my heart to pieces. I hated Hemingway one minute and loved him the next. I love Hadley, she is such a magnificent woman who was an absolute gem in her time and reminds me of so many women who gave up the best for their husbands during their worst times and then only for their man to leave. It's no secret Hem was a lover of many, but I think truly he loved Hadley the most. Their love was pure and real.

    This book was beautifully written if not a bit
    ...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
    Candi
    Jul 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    “We called Paris the great good place, then, and it was. We invented it after all. We made it with our longing and cigarettes and Rhum St. James; we made it with smoke and smart and savage conversation and we dared anyone to say it wasn’t ours. Together we made everything and then we busted it apart again.”

    Paula McLain has created a very entertaining, atmospheric novel depicting the lives of a young, up-and-coming writer, Ernest Hemingway, and his first wife and perhaps love of his life, Hadley
    ...more
    Elyse
    Aug 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    A page turning novel!

    I dare a reader 'not' to go to the internet and look up more information on Hemingway. (other characters in the book). How could you not?

    This history is fascinating! (and Hemingway was not 'the most' likeable human being on the planet)>>>> talented, yes.... "Giving & Caring" for others??? hm??? ........not so much!

    Awwwwwww, and don't we all know at least one talented person in our lives with this type of 'character-flaw'?/! lol



    Sally Howes
    From the opening lines of Paula McLain's THE PARIS WIFE, it is obvious that this author really knows how to turn a phrase. The prose is nimble and witty even when it is also full of pathos. The tone of the narrative is a conversational first-person one with a smattering of American epithets that makes it easy to hear this woman's voice. The narrative voice is very nineteen-twenties, using the vernacular to create a palpable "lost generation" atmosphere. This adds to the authentic, almost autobio ...more
    Corri
    Aug 30, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Emily
    Feb 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: fiction, recommend
    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
    Jun 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    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
    B the 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 Stroh
    Mar 30, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: paris-in-the-20s
    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
    Bill
    This is a novel about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley Richardson, told from Hadley's point of view and starting in 1920. The book is called The Paris Wife because they spent most of their time together living in Paris.

    Unfortunately, their time together was not all that long, as Ernest being the bastard that he was, had an affair about 4 years into their marriage and ended up divorcing Hadley to marry wife number two. Hadley had the last laugh though, as Ernest was to have four marriag
    ...more
    Jay
    Sep 30, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Recommended to Jay by: NPR Review
    Shelves: hemingway
    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
    Beej
    Feb 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Alice Poon
    May 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

    Overall, this novel was a poignant and breezy read. I guess with biographical historical novels, one would usually feel that the author, in trying to fill in the blanks of a factual account with creative bits, would tend to assume a sympathetic stance in regards to the protagonist (otherwise why write the story at all). Whether that sympathy is so strong that it lends a revisionist tone or whether it is balanced by reserve is a matter of the author's judgment call.

    The main storyline is riveting
    ...more
    aPriL does feral sometimes
    I didn't like the book much because it was slow and uninteresting. Yes, it was realistic, so real it was like reading an actual diary of an ordinary small-town, stay-at-home mother of toddlers writing about her days wiping babies' noses. Although she met famous people, the descriptions made it appear as interesting as a dull backyard barbecue with tired suburbanites after work. There were interesting bits, but Hadley got bored, so she was boring in talking about it. What bored her? Being the wif ...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.
    Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
    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
    Deanna Against Censorship
    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
    Suzanne
    Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    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
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    You'll love this ...: September 2017 - The Paris Wife 113 42 Sep 30, 2017 03:04PM  
    Bookworm Bitches : April 2012: The Paris Wife 78 381 Sep 09, 2017 05:42PM  
    Manchester Distri...: March 2017 Discussion: The Paris Wife 3 9 May 13, 2017 10:18AM  
    • Rules of Civility
    • Above All Things
    • Paris Without End: The True Story of Hemingway's First Wife
    • The Chaperone
    • The Soldier's Wife
    • The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb
    • Exit the Actress
    • Loving Frank
    • The Language of Flowers
    • Cutting for Stone
    • Hemingway's Girl
    • The Age of Desire
    • The American Heiress
    • The Last Time I Saw Paris
    • The Paris Architect
    • The Things We Cherished
    • To Be Sung Underwater
    • Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution
    290189
    Paula McLain is the author of the New York Times and internationally bestselling novels, The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun. She’s also published two collections of poetry, Less of Her and Stumble, Gorgeous, the memoir Like Family: Growing Up in Other People's Houses, and a first novel, A Ticket to Ride. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan in 1996, and has since receive ...more
    More about Paula McLain...
    “Books could be an incredible adventure. I stayed under my blanket and barely moved, and no one would have guessed how my mind raced and my heart soared with stories.” 115 likes
    “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.” 115 likes
    More quotes…