‘The Paris Wife’ by Paula McLain

'The Paris Wife' by Paula McLain

'The Paris Wife' by Paula McLain‘What could you possibly be fit for?’ she often said. ‘You can’t keep your head out of the clouds.’

‘The Paris Wife’ is an exaggerated and semi-fictionalized account of the relationship between famed, slightly misogynist, writer Ernest Hemingway and {his first wife – out of four} Elizabeth Hadley Richardson – of whom the above quotation references.

The book is narrated through the eyes and heart of Elizabeth – referred to by all who knew her as Hadley or Hen. The book is heart-filling and heart-wrenching all at the same time. You love and supremely hate Ernest Hemingway in the span of 314 pages. And whether you are a fan of Ernest or not, it is impossible not to become a fan of his red-haired first wife while reading this novel.

She is deliciously self-deprecating and humble about herself:

‘If the women in Paris were peacocks, I was a garden-variety hen,’

And also incredibly honest and open about her relationship:

‘I got the very best of him {Ernest}. We got the very best of each other.’

Hadley, at the end, survives not only a horribly embarrassing affair by her husband, but she does so with grace and aplomb – and in an era where separation and divorce were not openly acceptable. She stands strong as her husband openly seduces and beds one of her very good girlfriends – in front of her and with little to no remorse. I for one could not act as ladylike as she did. She truly mimics the narcissus she once saw and marveled about.

‘The first time I saw a narcissus pushing through the ice and thriving, I thought it was perfect and wanted that kind of determination for myself.’

This is a wonderful, heartfelt, poignantly-written book. I could spend days simply lost in the language Paula McLain uses to share Hadley’s story. There are so many passages of this book I wanted to remember and take note, that my highlighter ran across nearly every page.

2 thoughts on “‘The Paris Wife’ by Paula McLain

  1. I love that you reviewed this! I think I entered to win it on Goodreads at least three times and was never picked. It sounds fantastic; while I love a good romance it’s refreshing to explore a book more about a woman surviving the non-fairytale. It makes for a good balance. I’ll definitely have to add this to my reading list for the summer!

Comments are closed.