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February 6, 2015

#FBF: The Paris WIfe by Paula McLain

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Ballantine Books | February 22, 2011 
Women's Fiction | Historical

I read THE PARIS WIFE when it was newly released and I remember feeling very infuriated afterwards. Aside from the wonderful cast of literary characters starting with Ernest Hemingway and the infamous Fitzgeralds, this book was a sort of semi-biographical retelling of Ernest and his then wife, Hadley Richardson, when they moved to Paris during the Jazz age. THE PARIS WIFE is a story of love, marriage loyalty, friendship, betrayal, and ambition, and all these were doled out in the superlative. So, I naturally got very invested in the story and finished the book with high emotions, mostly in varying shades of anger. 

I'm not familiar with Ernest Hemingway's life story aside from his reputation of being a broken soul and an alcoholic. In retrospect, I think his biography would be a great inspiration for angst-ridden books that a lot of people love to read these days. Anyway, that unfamiliarity is what attracted me to read THE PARIS WIFE. I love fictional biographies because I find outright history boring. 

Hadley Richardson. How I loved, pitied, and admired thee. It was with thick rose colored glasses that she married and ran off with Hemingway to Paris. Lived the life of poverty, listened patiently to Ernest's book ideas and the like, doing her darnest to make things work, as Ernest fought off writer's block, gallivanted Paris with the "popular kids", and womanized. Hadley is frickin loyal to a fault, and this part was what infuritated me. She is clearly, someone you want on your side when things are hard, the ideal wife who will be there through thick and thin. A martyr, for sure! Frustrating yet admirable IMO. One's either stupidly in-love or has a strong sense of skewed honor to stand by a man who treats you like shit! Meanwhile Ernest is just plain stupid, disrespectful, and selfish. 

To give you a clue, how about your husband/boyfriend/partner introduce his/her new lover to you while you're still married and expects you to entertain him/her? And their so-called friends? None of them were loyal to Hadley, the poor girl was left to handle her own grief by herself, and look for a salve to mend her broken heart. Speaking of friends, the Fitzgeralds here were portrayed like the Buchanans in The Great Gatsby, annoying, frivolous, and fake, in case you're curious. 

As you can see, the years haven't dulled my feelings towards THE PARIS WIFE. The blurb said "evocative" and that's a dire understatement IMO because it was clearly more than that. As for the ending, I can't say I'm fully satisfied with it. Obviously I went all Lorena Bobbit for a bit, and wanted to cut of Ernest Hemingway's penis, and set his mistress on fire. In summary, Ernest was sorry for his actions and deeply regretted how he handled the situation. Hadley, for her part, remained one of Ernest's friend and confidante til the end. 










28 comments:

  1. jeeze louis I think this book would another the living crap out of me o.o I agree.. I think I'd jump on the penis chopping bandwagon

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  2. LOL at Lily's comment! I don't think this would be the book for me. Sometimes there is good frustration and sometimes not and this would definitely bring out the not in me. ;)

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    1. Oh this is my kind of torture. I don't know why I love marriage in crisis stories, my theory is I'm sick and tired of the first blush of love romances I need something I can relate more with.

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  3. Ernest Hemingway sounds like a real piece of work! I can't say that I know much about his personal life, but reading your review made my blood boil. Poor, sweet, Hadley! Where do I sign-up for Lily and Ali's penis chopping club? lolz

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads

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    1. Hahaha! I hope your hubby doesn't see this comment with V-Day being so close and all!

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  4. Oh lord I would shot my husband and his new lover if that happened. Hemingway was an interesting character. I think reading this would bring out my worst characteristic.

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  5. If I had to entertain the lover of my significant other, there would be lots and lots of blood...and stabbing. :D

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    1. Amen to that sister. If you get caught and I'm one of the jury, I'd acquit you!

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  6. Braine . . . I didn't even read this book, and I NEVER would, b/c (unfortunately) unlike you, I AM familiar with Hemingway. I (voluntarily, b/c ignorant) chose him for the topic of my senior research paper, and I bloody loathe him and his cheating, blame-shifting, melancholy, self-pitying ways. *breathes out* *breathes in* Sorry for the rant. Back to the point--I didn't have to read this book to be absolutely infuriated. I get you, Braine. I. Get. You.

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    1. Oh wow. I don't envy you at all. Some credit his brokenness to PTSD but the dude is just whacked. Period.

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  7. Ernest Hemingway has a reputation for being a misogynist. It shows in his work, and the way he reduces the women in his life to nothing but playthings. He was selfish, egotistical and a hedonist. Needless to say, I'm not a fan. Lol.

    great review, Braine!

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    1. See I sort of knew that coming in but I guess I'm a masochist because I stillr ead this LOL

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  8. Oh I love Paris stories, it's always so much fun to read about a place I really know. I didn't know about this one and I confess that I don't really know a lot either about Hemingway. Thanks for the review!

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    1. Clean slate. That's good! Try to read it when you get the time.

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  9. I would probably still be fuming years later if I read this too. lol

    I can't handle reading people be so cruel to someone they supposedly love - and watching that person take it.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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    1. Oh it was difficult to read at times. but the again, times were different back in the day. THere were certain expectations about women and being feisty isn't one of them.

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  10. Seems Hadley had it tough! I don't think I'd like Hemingway! What a pain!

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

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    1. His repuation precedes him that's for sure.

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  11. Yeah, sometimes, it's really better not to know anything at all about who is behind the stories we read, because if they are loathsome human beings, our enjoyment of their books kind of shift. At least that's the case for me. I would be really mad, too, especially knowing that this fiction is based on real events...
    Great ranty review, Braine!

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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    1. You have a point. At the same time it's a little fascinating too. I always wonder how someone can be so callous sometimes. I can't fathom WHERE his behavior stems from.

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  12. This is a book I've always wanted to read, Braine, because I don't know all that much about Hemingway either. (aside from reading his books) It does say something about the book that you're still so emotional over it after so much time. I think I'd be like you and want a slice of Hemingway. But I'm intrigued by a woman that would stand by him even after all that...

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    1. Hadley is a saint & the fact that she was real made her character even more special

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