The Paris Wife

Paula McLain

The Paris Wife

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness, until she meets Ernest Hemingway. After a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they soon fall in with a circle of lively and volatile expatriates, including F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound. Ernest and Hadley are thrust into a life of artistic ambition, hard liquor and spur-of-the-moment dashes to Pamplona, the Riviera and the Swiss Alps. But Jazz Age Paris does not lend itself to family life and fidelity. 3.3 out of 5 based on 7 reviews
The Paris Wife

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General
Format Hardcover
Pages 400
RRP £12.99
Date of Publication March 2011
ISBN 978-1844086665
Publisher Virago
 

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness, until she meets Ernest Hemingway. After a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they soon fall in with a circle of lively and volatile expatriates, including F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound. Ernest and Hadley are thrust into a life of artistic ambition, hard liquor and spur-of-the-moment dashes to Pamplona, the Riviera and the Swiss Alps. But Jazz Age Paris does not lend itself to family life and fidelity.

Reviews

The Sunday Telegraph

David Robson

Much of the raw material in The Paris Wife will be familiar to Hemingway fans from The Sun Also Rises, his first novel, and A Moveable Feast, his posthumously published memoir of Paris in the Twenties. But McLain’s beautifully imagined novel is a worthy addition to the Hemingway canon. It is sharp, unsparing and delivered in a pared-down prose that the great man himself would have applauded.

13/03/2011

Read Full Review


The Sunday Times

Lucy Scholes

McLain’s job is undoubtedly made easier by the fact that the Hemingways’ Paris is a city where “interesting people were everywhere”, but nevertheless she skilfully entangles the stories of each, making this as much a collective biography of Stein’s “lost generation” as it is Hadley’s own tale... Hadley’s voice is perfectly pitched; the intensity of her love for her husband is compelling, and her feelings of jealousy, fear of abandonment and escape into motherhood make her believably flawed.

06/03/2011

Read Full Review


The Guardian

Sarah Churchwell

The Paris Wife sings with such pitch-perfect renderings of famous voices, grounded in a tale made all the more poignant for our knowledge of how sad all the young men and women will turn out to be, how the bright young things will tarnish and disintegrate. In drafts cut from the first edition of A Moveable Feast, Hemingway explains: "This is about the first part of Paris . . . That Paris you could never put into a single book." Maybe not – but Paula McLain has come impressively close.

26/03/2011

Read Full Review


The Observer

Olivia Laing

The period and setting are hardly untrodden territory for novelists and biographers alike, and McLain owes a great debt, as she cheerfully admits, to A Moveable Feast, Hemingway's own posthumously published memoir of his Paris years. The difference between the two is that the action here is largely seen through Hadley's eyes; the domestic takes precedent and there is more emotion and exposition than Papa would permit...

20/02/2011

Read Full Review


The Financial Times

Simon Kuper

Unfortunately, a dutiful wife makes an underwhelming narrator. It’s unclear whether we should blame Richardson or McLain for the pat phrases that clog the book’s first third... But the novel takes off in Paris... In smooth prose that trots sweetly along and sometimes achieves Hemingwayesque precision, McLain keeps their Paris alive.

21/03/2011

Read Full Review


The Daily Mail

Helen Brown

McLain tenderly transports us back to their hopeful beginnings.Through Hadley’s eyes, we enjoy nights awash with absinthe in the giddy company of F Scott Fitgerald, Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein.

17/03/2011

Read Full Review


The New York Times

Janet Maslin

The drawback is that Ms. McLain’s Hadley, when not in big-league company that overshadows her, isn’t a subtly drawn character. She’s thick, and not just in physique. She’s slow on the uptake, and she can be a stodgy bore... The Paris Wife raises fewer questions about Hadley’s thinking than it does about Ms. McLain’s. This novel draws heavily on research, but it does so in confounding ways. When Hadley describes writing a letter to her sweetheart, for instance, is the book paraphrasing a real letter? Let’s hope so, because if not, she is just being dull.

27/02/2011

Read Full Review


©2013 The Omnivore