Friday, May 31, 2013

Cephalopod Coffeehouse: The Paris Wife

Honestly, I wondered about the wisdom of signing up for a book review blog hop--no matter how awesomely named--taking place the last day of May. It has been a busy month, and I have gotten one step farther behind every day. But! I finished my book last night and am ready to give it a short blurb before reading the much more thoughtful and less last-minute-y reviews from the other Cephalopod Coffeehouse participants.  (Find that list here.)

So, without further ado, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain is a story told in first-person by Hadley Richardson, who is better known as The First Mrs. Ernest Hemingway. She's a woman I knew nothing about, and I was captivated by how this relatively ordinary midwestern gal found herself married to an extraordinary man (Hemingway), living in an extraordinary city (1920s Paris), and befriended by an extraordinary social circle (including Gertrude Stein and the Fitzgeralds). 

From Chicago to Paris to Canada to Pamplona, the down-to-earth Hadley drinks too much, goes to bullfights, has a baby, and weathers the storms of high-society and the moods of her mercurial husband. Throughout it all, her voice remains accessible and true, and the book comes across as genuine and unpretentious. Things don't end wonderfully for Hadley and Ernest, but, considering the man and the times, it could have been much worse.

So if Leo as Gatsby has you wanting more Jazz Age drama, give this book a look this summer. It's a good one for beach or poolside, though it may make you wish for a waiter in a white tuxedo to bring you a drink on a silver tray.

Thanks to Coffeehouse host The Armchair Squid for putting this hop together!


11 comments:

Laoch of Chicago said...

How wonderful. I must read this.

Hemingway wrote of his impressions of the years they were in Paris in a the sublime "A Movable Feast."

D.G. Hudson said...

This is a great book to read after A Moveable Feast, as it shows more about Hadley. I also reviewed this book last year.

This book is a great selection for those who are Hemingway fans (as I am).

Suze said...

I'm surprised to read you describing the narrator as 'down-to-earth.' I tried to read this book but didn't get past the first few chapters. I found her voice tiresome and affected.

I see from the a couple of comments above, though, that I am in the minority. :)

Jenny said...

LoC and DG, I've not read A Moveable Feast. I guess I'll have to get that on my list after I reread The Sun Also Rises. Or maybe before!

Suze, I appreciate your comment, because I often feel like I'm in the minority when I don't like books other people rave about. Thank goodness there are enough books out there for all of us!

Stephanie said...

This book has been sitting on my shelf for ages, and I haven't mustered up the oomph to dive into it yet. I don't know why — maybe just because nobody has recommended it. Your description gives me much more to go on: it sounds good enough to give it a go!

The Armchair Squid said...

1920s Paris - perfect setting for a real-life coffeehouse book club. I wonder how many books and movies have been made about the Hemingway-Stein-Fitzgerald gang. Woody Allen had a great comedy routine about them once upon a time.

Thanks so much for participating, Jenny!

MOCK! said...

This is the first book I've seen in the blog hop that I am going to recommend to others first...this is so up my wife and daughter's alleys...

Melissa Ann said...

This sounds like the type of book my other half likes to read, maybe I shall pick it up for him.

Melissa Ann at My Creatively Random Life

Jenny said...

I appreciate your comments, squid book clubbers (wait, that sounds weird), and I'm laughing to myself because maybe I should be in the "other half" book club instead :-) Thanks for stopping by!

Kerry said...

I've been meaning to read this book, so it's good to hear that you liked it. I just finished a piece of historical fiction called "Hemingway's Girl" which is based loosely on some things that happened when he was married to his 3rd wife, Pauline, and was spending a lot of time in the Fla Keys. I liked it.

Mary Mary said...

This book has been on my list for a while, and now I'm pretty sure I'm going to read it! Thanks for sharing it!