I am embarrassed to say I never read anything by Ernest Hemingway. After reading, The Paris Wife, that is going to change.
The Paris Wife tells the story of Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley as they live in Paris during the 1920’s surrounded by literary, artistic greats: Gertrude Stein, Sherwood Anderson, Scott Fitzgerald. The story follows Hadley, as she breaks free from her oppressive childhood home and swept in a whirl wind romance with Ernest. She married him and follows him to glittering Paris, so Ernest can live his dream. I sympathized with Hadley a lot. She finds her father after he kills himself, she becomes the caregiver for sick and possibly mentally ill mother, and is destined to live her life as a old maid. She has never met anyone like Ernest or has been loved like that before, so of course she falls hard. In Paris, she’s out of place. She doesn’t wear the right clothes, she isn’t artistic, or confidant. but she is naive enough to think love is enough and she is content to play the supportive wife.
I found Ernest to be selfish, and self centered and I kept waiting for Hadley to break free, to see her own worth. But I also found Ernest charming, and I could see how a woman would think he was exciting. Finally, Hadley does wake up and starts to make decisions for herself and her child. She finally finds happiness, but it was a long, painful road.
The writing was beautiful. I loved that it was written in first person. The author did a great job at letting us into Hadley’s mind, we could feel what she was feeling: her hopeful anticipation, her disappointment. Even though it made me really mad at points (ask my hubs. He got a earful about fidelity), I still thought it was a great book. Maybe the most intriguing cast of characters I have read all year.