Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife tells the story of Hemingway's first wife, Hadley. Told in her voice, it chronicles their meeting, their time in Paris, and their ultimate breakup. Like any good historical fiction, it covers the ground you already know, but paints the scene so vividly that it makes you want to run out and read all you can about the subject. For that reason, I'd highly recommend this book for anyone who's a huge nerd for all things related to the artists and writers of Paris in the 1920's.

Even though you can't help but know how the story will end, it's still fascinating and heartbreaking to watch the demise of the Hemingway's and Hadley's marriage. His depiction is right in line with his misogynistic reputation, and hers is of a woman who, somewhat surprisingly, didn't completely fit into the Bohemian Parisian lifestyle. You get the sense that she stayed in the relationship beyond the point of no return not because of a free-thinking marriage philosophy, but because she was playing a more traditional, submissive role, putting Hemingway's needs, even for affairs with other women, before her own.

My one complaint relates to the dialogue in the novel. Although Hadley as the narrator has a very fresh, direct voice, the conversations between her and Hemingway didn't quite ring true. I got the sense that the author was trying to capture something of the real Hemingway's sparse writing style. Though he pulls that off wonderfully in his own works, it didn't work for me in this novel. A small criticism, though, for an otherwise interesting novel.

1 comment:

  1. OoOo I think you might enjoy this post that my boss did with Paula Mclain's agent, Julie Barer!



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