Jeffrey Taylor's Reviews > The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
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May 19, 2012

it was amazing
Read in May, 2012

In reading the book I had to keep reminding myself that this was historical fiction. That aside the story provides another perspective for us, another aspect of the image that is Ernest Hemingway.

When we stand back an look though Hadley's eyes we see a pair of impulsive people who often became damaged by the consequences of their blind actions. They courted by mail and only had two weeks of face to face personal experience togther when they married. They went off to Paris, unprepared and without sufficient funds. They would cross an alpine pass in winter with little experience and no preparation and needing to be saved by a friend.

Hadley was a very traditional girl married to a bohemian writer. She was a virgin when they became engaged. He was a man who would throw a punch in a bar out of nowhere just to feel a man's jaw break but only when the trophy was the bar girl who would take him home with her after the fight. She was an amateur pianist with no consuming interests, married to a man who was dedicated only to his work. She wanted a traditional family with one wife, one husband and children; he wanted varied relationships, a life like Ezra Pound's.

I think their marriage was in shallow water before Hemingway tried to slip Pauline into the marriage bed. When Hemingway finished his great novel, The Sun Also Rises, he included all their friends in his fictional account of the dreadful visit to Pamplona, Spain but wrote Hadley out of the story. She had already felt isolated into the wives corner when Hemingway conversed with his artistic friends. Now he was writing her out of his life. That was the ultimate cruelty.
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