Monday, March 14, 2011

The Paris Wife

I recently read the book The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. It is the story of the courtship and married life of Hadley Richardson and Ernest Hemingway. It is written as a novel. The characters and situations are real. To fill in the blanks the author used her imagination.

Hadley and Ernest
Hadley, Ernest and their son, Bumby.
The storyline and time frame is the same as Hemingway's memoir A Moveable Feast, Paris in the 1920's. A time when lives were filled with artists, writers, booze and a mixture of bohemians both wealthy and not.
It is interesting to read the story from Hadley's perspective. She was a strong and compelling woman. She was also content to stay in the background and let Ernest be the star. She claimed she didn't want to be a modern girl. She was comfortable being old fashioned. I think she felt safe there, being in the background and being old fashioned. It kept her out of the line of fire from whatever new scheme was brewing.
With his early writing success Ernest's ego began to explode. He had always been macho and at times a bully. Things progressed from there. He seemed to take it for granted that he could do whatever he wanted. If he thought it would make him a better writer it must be the right thing to do. Even old fashioned Hadley wouldn't put up with that forever.
I like Hadley. She stayed true to herself. She knew when it was over. It hurt but she got on with her life.
The story is fascinating because of where and when it is set. Paris in the 20's was a hot bed of creativity. The cast of characters included Gertrude Stein, Alice B Toklas, F Scott Fitzgerald and his Zelda. Quite a group.

Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas
Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald
Zelda, Scott and daughter Scottie
The Paris Wife, that alone conjures up all sorts of romantic notions. It would have been hard to resist that call to adventure.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a good read.I'm reading Paris Was Ours right now by but I'll put it on my list.