The Paris Wife by Paula McLain tells the tumultuous tale of Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage to Hadley Richardson. This novel shares a taste of life during the 1920s when the days of authors such as Hemingway and Fitzgerald were filled with writing, travel and extreme amounts of alcohol. The novel details their lifestyle as they lived in Paris during the early days of Hemingway’s writing career when he was a struggling artist.
The couple met at a party and despite warnings from Hadley’s sister married and moved to Paris. Both had experienced mental illness within their own families and had their own challenges with “down” periods. The story began prior to Hemingway publishing his first novel when money was tight and shared the challenges he experienced trying to complete his first novel (including the loss of a valise with ALL of his work to date). Hemingway felt that he thrived in Paris and was also inspired by the bullfighting in Spain during this period.
Ernest is portrayed as very opinionated and challenged in maintaining friendships. He had an extramarital relationship which ended their marriage after 5 years despite his love for Hadley. The couple had one son (nicknamed Bumby) who remained with his mother.
I enjoyed the second reading of this novel and look forward to meeting the author Paula McLain at the Grimsby Author’s Series next week. She will discuss her new novel, Circling the Sun, which will be reviewed in a subsequent blog post. Reading this novel inspires me add The Moveable Feast and The Sun Always Rises to my ever-growing pile of books to read!