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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

I started reading this book on a day when I really didn't have time for it.  Bad move on my part!  I was/wanted to get sucked into it and desperately wanted to ignore everything else in my life so I could just read but alas! children have to be fed and taken to the bus stop and music lessons, etc. so I couldn't have the all-day read fest that I wanted to have. 
I haven't read too many of Ernest Hemingway's books although I enjoyed what I read, sort of, and I really didn't know much about his life other than he seemed to be a rugged outdoorsman type and a ladies man, so it was very interesting to read about him through the eyes of his first wife, Hadley.  She grew up in St. Louis and, although she was 8 years older than Ernest, was said to be quite naive.  They met at a mutual friend's house in Chicago and were instantly attracted to each other.  They wrote constantly to each other when they were apart, and fell in love through those letters.  Soon after they married, they moved to Paris where Ernest could be a part of up-and-coming-writers and artists who were there.  Unfortunately, that group also had very loose morals, and the 2nd half of the book you can see the coming train wreck.  Actually, that part was quite painful to read.  I knew what was coming but compulsively had to know just how.
I thought that it was beautifully written, maybe a bit uneven at times, and there were times when the narrative seemed to bog down a bit.  I enjoyed all the appearances of other writers of the time (F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald play a significant role) and loved Hadley's perspective.  Many readers suggested reading Hemingway's book A Moveable Feast to get his take on things.  The language was fairly clean.  There was some sex in the book, not too descriptive but some of the choices they make are definitely for adults only.  Rated PG-16.