Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Paris Wife by Paula McClain

I was looking through my book reviews and cannot believe I forgot to write a review about this one y'all! It was spectacular!

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. 

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill-prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises. Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold on to her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for. 

A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.

This book was designed, I am sure, for me to like, here's why:

  • Time: 1920s
  • Place: Paris
  • Genre: Fiction, specifically based somewhat on history
  • Characters: American Expats
So, yeah, this book was made for me to love. I love Historical Fiction-type books, escpecially ones that take place in 1920s Paris. The characters I could completely relate to as they were American expats! 

The main characters are Earnest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. Both come from well to do families in Midwest America. They meet, fall in love, and quickly move to Paris. They live out their life drinking, partying and even though they are constantly struggling for money have a housekeeper/nanny and travel a ton!

I love how the book takes you to Paris, Italy, Spain, and Austria. I love how all the characters are writers or artists I have hear of and are given a new life in this novel.

I did find some of the characters to be ridiculous and hope they were actually similar to how described in real I would have loved to have known the Fitzgeralds regardless of their ridiculousness! (I've actually always felt that way after reading Gatsby in 9th Grade)

I feel like McClain did a great job of spinning a story based on some recorded history. I loved getting to know the characters as she portrayed them and found them very relatable, living the life I would have found exhilarating in 1920s Paris. 

Have you read the Paris Wife? If so, how did you like it? Do you have any 1920s novel recommendations for me?


  1. I loved The Great Gatsby!! I had a paper published by Purdue University on A Farewell to Arms. Henry James can make me swoon. Most people I know think I am totally crazy! Thank you for stopping by Giggles and Grimaces.

  2. I really enjoyed this book, it was one of the first ones we read for our IRL book club. It made me want to read The Sun Also Rises (which I really did NOT like). But I liked the author's fictionalization of the Hemingways lives. Hope you linked up your review on the Europe Linkup board too for our challenge!

    Ya know, I thought I had written a review of this one and I can't find it! Maybe I didn't either but I did enjoy this book.

    1. Hey Tanya! Thanks for the link to that link-up! I have a few books of his I want to read, but may re-evaluate now that you didn't like The Sun Also Rises. Hmm...