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Book Review: "The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain

"The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain
"The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain

You might be someone's first love, their first wife, and the mother of their child, but that does not guarantee that the love will last forever. Hadley Richardson Hemingway learned that the hard way. The first wife of Ernest Hemingway had his heart, was with him when he was a nobody and they were dirt poor, was on his adventures with him, and even bore his first child, but that didn't keep her from heartache or loss. In "The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain, Hadley experiences the ups, downs, love, and heartache of being the first Mrs. Hemingway.

"The Paris Wife" follows the relationship and first marriage of Ernest Hemingway and Hadley Richardson. Still unwed at 28 years old, Hadley expected a life as a spinster until Ernest Hemingway swept her off her feet. They formed a special bond with Ernest passionate about his writing and Hadley passionate about helping him become that famous writer. Hadley supported Ernest in all that he did and even left behind all that she knew to move to Paris with him. In Paris, Ernest and Hadley made friends with famous writers and artists of the Lost Generation and began to build a life for themselves with their son. As Ernest's star begins to rise, Hadley fears she is losing him to the writing, the Lost Generation, and to another woman, a woman she considered a friend. This novel is a look at the first marriage of the great author and the wonderful and loving woman behind the man.

"The Paris Wife" is a beautiful and powerful portrayal of Hadley. Readers get to experience her life and relationship with Hemignway and witness all the love and heartache. McLain does an amazing job giving Hadley a voice and having readers understand and respect her. Hadley comes back to life thanks to McLain's powerful portrayal of her.

McLain also does a fantastic job portraying the relationship between Ernest and Hadley. You get to see the early and happy days of their marriage, the frustrating and dark moments of their marriage when Ernest was at creative lows, and finally, when another woman came between them. This is a full, powerful, and moving view of a very complex marriage.

The Lost Generation also comes to life in this novel. Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and Gerald and Sarah Murphy appear with accurate portrayals whether it be Gertrude Stein's bond with Hemingway, the strange friendship between great authors: Hemingway and Fitzgerald, and the erratic and fragile behavior of Zelda Fitzgerald. You'll feel like you are part of the Lost Generation.

"The Paris Wife" is a remarkable novel on a fascinating author and his just as fascinating first wife. Hadley may have felt like she didn't have a voice while married to Ernest, but she certainly gets a voice and powerful representation in "The Paris Wife":

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