The Paris Wife A Novel
"The Paris Wife" is one of the best novels I've read in a long time. It's so evocative of time and place, of the hearts and minds of the characters, that I could scarcely put it down. I highly recommend it.
I read Hemingway in high school and college. I didn't enjoy or appreciate his work. I knew that World War I had a shattering effect on those who fought and survived, the so-called "Lost Generation." However, I didn't understand their intense live-for-today mindset, or their conviction that there was no point to anything in life except seizing the day. Only intense, adrenaline-inducing experiences, narcissism, artistic expression, and endless partying mattered. Today we would call Hemingway, and many of his mercurial friends, victims of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"The Paris Wife" takes you so thoroughly into Hemingway's life in the 1920s that it's not just a gripping story, but a revelation about the artist and the genesis of his work.
The narrator of the book, Hemingway's first wife, Hadley, struggles to understand and support him. She also desperately wants him want to be faithful, as she is - definitely not the norm in their fast-living crowd. She loves him, but doesn't understand his moods or his behavior; she finds them troubling, selfish, even cruel. She also must take her own journey of self-discovery and independence. And clearly, given his ultimate suicide, Hemingway struggled mightily with something very dark within himself that no one else could touch. As much as he sometimes regretted that darkness, he hoarded it within himself.
This is a wonderful novel, somehow both intimate and epic. Author Paula McLain takes us right into Hadley and Ernest's Roaring 20s world. It's a fascinating and heart-breaking place.