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Review: The Paris Wife

June 30, 2016

The Paris Wife

Once again, my book club motivated me to read a book that had been lingering on my shelves far too long.  The Paris Wife by Paula McLain was our selection for June.  It’s the story of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson.

Richardson met Hemingway when she visited an old roommate – the two kept in tough through letters and they married several months later.  After marriage, they moved to Paris where they became part of the active expat society.  Ernest and his work were a priority for them, even though it was her inheritance that made their lifestyle possible.  With his ego and mental state, though, their relationship was doomed from the start.

. . . and I knew that I could hate him all I wanted for the way he was hurting me, but I couldn’t ever stop loving him, absolutely, for what he was.”

I think most people are familiar with Richardson and her relationship with Hemingway and I’m not sure The Paris Wife brought any new insight to the story.  Everyone in my book club loved this book, except for me.  I know things were different in the 1920s but I found Richardson dull and mousy and her story just didn’t keep my interest.  McLain’s writing was the high point for me, however, and it did keep me engaged.

Having said all of that, The Paris Wife generated a great discussion.  We talked about the book, its characters, and its historical accuracy for quite a while and most people had a lot to say about it.

Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.  I am an Indiebound Affliate.

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2016 8:32 am

    I met a girl named Hadley the other day… She now reminds me of this book. ;D

  2. Patty permalink
    June 30, 2016 8:59 am

    For some reason I did not want to read this…perhaps because of that era…

  3. June 30, 2016 9:12 am

    I saw a lot of buzz when this book was released, but still haven’t read it myself. Historical fiction used to be one of my main genres, but I don’t find I am reading it like I used to.

  4. June 30, 2016 9:24 am

    The Paris Wife is definitely one that I’ve seen come up a bunch of times from a variety of sources. It’s not in my TBR pile, and I don’t know if I will put it there. I have never been interested enough to pick it up.

  5. June 30, 2016 9:39 am

    I just saw Genius the other day, and I had to laugh because I knew right away when Hemingway showed up in a scene, even though he wasn’t even introduced as Hemingway until later. He had quite the personality. I wonder what he would have been like if he lived in our times. Not sure I want to read this book, though, although the Max Perkins biography is really calling to me!

  6. June 30, 2016 10:18 am

    I read this one a while ago…I knew it had been at least two years, so when I checked, I see that I read it in 2011. Wow, how time flies. I did enjoy it, but I wasn’t impressed by Hadley, either.

    The other day, I saw an Amazon Video about Hemingway and his third wife, called Hemingway and Gellhorn. Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman played the characters. Gellhorn was a journalist and ended up leaving him after a few years. She was definitely an interesting wife.

    Thanks for your review…and I also like Paula McLain’s writing.

  7. June 30, 2016 10:19 am

    Kathy, thanks for your candid review. I have this book in my TBR stacks. (I have a hard time reading books about characters with huge egos, so I’ not sure this book is for me.)

  8. June 30, 2016 12:20 pm

    I’ve been on the fence about this one. I’m not a big fan of historical fiction, but I am interested in Hemingway and I love anything to do with Paris. Maybe if I just read 2-3 chapters at a time I could stick with it. . And who knows, maybe once I start reading it I won’t want to put it down. I’ve only had 2 HF’s do that, but it could happen again.

  9. June 30, 2016 12:34 pm

    I listened to the audiobook and liked it. I can see why it would be a good book club selection.

  10. June 30, 2016 12:50 pm

    I read A Moveable Feast many years ago, maybe even twice, and so I feel like enough of the story LOL

  11. June 30, 2016 4:09 pm

    I think the library has this one

  12. Literary Feline permalink
    June 30, 2016 7:30 pm

    It’s a relief to know I am not the only one who didn’t care for this one. At least you read it all the way through. I couldn’t even manage that.

  13. July 1, 2016 1:29 am

    It’s hard when a book club book doesn’t capture your interest. I guess it’d be boring if everyone loved the book though!

  14. July 1, 2016 5:29 am

    I liked this one very much.

  15. July 1, 2016 6:45 am

    This was just a so-so read for me. I enjoyed Circling the Sun much more.

  16. July 1, 2016 1:28 pm

    I haven’t read this one, but I’ve heard others praise it. Sorry this one didn’t work for you.

  17. July 1, 2016 8:20 pm

    I picked this one up recently because I found out the author is a local Clevelander. Looks like one to recommend to my book group.

  18. July 2, 2016 11:22 am

    I’ve always liked the cover of this book, but haven’t picked it up. The synopsis didn’t grab me, but I bet it would make for good book club discussion.

  19. July 3, 2016 9:41 pm

    I can imagine this one generating lots of discussion – especially if members of your book club have also read any of Hemingway’s books. THat’s no fun it didn’t resonate with you but it also helps the discussion 🙂

  20. bookingmama permalink
    July 7, 2016 2:12 pm

    I agree that this novel was very well written.

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