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The Paris Wife

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  284,874 ratings  ·  21,625 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 and her life changes forever. 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, ...more
Hardcover, 314 pages
Published February 27th 2011 by Ballantine Books
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Cindy Kelly I detest that point of view. Artists are people with the opportunities and challenges that we all have. The attitude that their "genius" gives them a …moreI detest that point of view. Artists are people with the opportunities and challenges that we all have. The attitude that their "genius" gives them a license to cheat, abuse drugs, abandon families .... is romantic but just that. My father was a successful writer. He wrote everyday until months before his death. He wanted to be honored for hard work. People expected that he and his friends to be less than moral and irresponsible. He and those in his circle were insulted by this opinion. He supported his family and did whatever it took. He put up with miserable publishers and wrote boring pieces to pay the mortgage.(less)
Just Janet It has been boring from the beginning until now. I am about 75% through this book and rushing to put myself out of this misery. Why has it been so pop…moreIt has been boring from the beginning until now. I am about 75% through this book and rushing to put myself out of this misery. Why has it been so popular? I don't understand. (less)

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Petra is slightly on hiatus doing bookshop work
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
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
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
Sep 30, 2010 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: if you absolutely must read everything Hemingway
Shelves: did-not-finish
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
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
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: xx2017-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
J.L.   Sutton
Jul 04, 2018 rated it liked it
In the Paris Wife, Paula McLain evokes a fascinating history of Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley, much of it during their time in Paris when Hemingway was struggling to find the voice which would catapult him to literary success. As interested as I was, I alternated between fascination and flinching. While I’ve spent many hours reading novels by Ernest Hemingway, did I really want to be in the bedroom with Hemingway and Hadley? Or, as his first marriage fell apart, did I want to be in the be ...more
Apr 16, 2011 rated it liked it
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.

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
Oct 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: historic-fiction
"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 Byrnes
Jun 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Terrie Robinson
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who love historical fiction
Recommended to Terrie by: Facebook Group:
Reading, "The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain was a joy!

I love the first person narrative through the voice and perspective of Hadley Richardson Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway's first wife. I knew of their story together and this book gave it the depth, detail and life I knew I was missing.

Their marriage was a story of six short years together, overflowing with love and passion for one another. Hadley seemed to be Ernest's one constant during this time and knowing this gave Hadley the strength to end
Elyse  Walters
Aug 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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

Jan 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
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. 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
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
Aug 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Dave Schaafsma
Jun 07, 2018 rated it liked it
I began The Paris Wife in 2011 when it came out and decided it wasn’t for me, in spite of the fact that I live in Hemingway’s Oak Park, where the annual Hemingway Festival had everyone aflutter reading it. Hemingstein! Hadley! Bumby! I knew the story, and was a little intrigued, as with the myths of other famous and supposedly misogynist Oak Park men, such as Frank Lloyd Wright—to hear of that time in Paris finally from the (fictional) perspective of the woman who was his first wife, his Paris w ...more
Cynthia Hamilton
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I fell in love with The Paris Wife right from the start. There was something so authentic about Hadley's voice, the way she described the circumstances of meeting Ernest Hemingway, of being drawn to him—and vice versa—never knowing how their lives would entwine and separate again.

I was so impressed with the author’s observations; Hadley is portrayed as a woman who never sought the limelight, but who recognized talent and worth when she saw it. As Hadley and Ernest travel to Europe, yearning to
Rachel Thomas
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
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
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
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
I had no idea what this book was about when i started reading it so was surprised to find out it was about Hemingway's first wife which i found super interesting as i literally knew nothing about Hemingway except he's a author with a serious reputation.

I really enjoyed the book, felt Paris was a pretty cool place to be after the first world war, i felt the vibe radiate from the pages. The book did make me angry towards the end, felt Hadley should have got a bit of back bone against Pauline.

I w
Suzanne Stroh
Mar 30, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
May 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 30, 2011 rated it liked it
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
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
Crystal Craig

Have to ever done something stupid like writing a review only to delete it by accident. Yep, it's been one of those days. And I'm not so good at this review thing that I wish to begin again, so here's the short version.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Paris Wife. The writing was excellent; I felt like I packed my suitcase and went on an adventure with the characters. Highly recommend.
Sep 30, 2011 rated it liked it
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,
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Paula McLain is the author of the New York Times and internationally bestselling novels, The Paris Wife, Circling the Sun and Love and Ruin. Now she introduces When the Stars Go Dark (April 13, 2021), an atmospheric novel of intertwined destinies and heart-wrenching suspense. She received an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan in 1996, and is also the author of two collections of poetry, ...more

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