About Time I Read It: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

I’d heard amazing things about Paula McLain’s 2012 novel The Paris Wife when I came across a copy a few years ago at a church book sale. Attractively priced at 5o cents, how could I resist a novel inspired by the life of Hadley Richardson, the spouse of Ernest Hemingway, one of my favorite American writers. Chiefly set in Paris, I could also apply it towards Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge should I need something representing France. But like so many books I’ve bought over the years, it languished on the shelf ignored and unread. That is, until a couple of weeks ago, when, fortified with a new pair of glasses I assembled a tower of books to read. The Paris Wife was included in that tower and before I knew it, the novel had been cracked open and I was reading it. And enjoying the heck out of it.

The Paris Wife begins not in Paris, but in Chicago where Richardson and Hemingway meet at a party. Richardson, 28 years old and nine years Hemingway’s senior had long since surrendered any dreams of marriage opting instead for the quiet life of spinsterhood. Nevertheless she’s immediately attracted to Hemingway finding him irresistably charming and interesting.

It’s in Europe, starting in Paris that Hemingway’s evolution to becoming a great American author begins. Not only is Paris the City of Light, it’s also home of the interwar literary avant-garde. Before long greats like Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein have taken young Hemingway under their respective wings, coaching and encouraging him as a writer. Later, Hemingway and Richardson’s trips to Spain provide inspiration for his break-out novel The Sun Also Rises. But it’s also in Paris, surrounded by a cast of free-wheeling, hard-drinking and hard-loving expats that their marriage begins to fall apart. The rest as they say is history.

The Paris Wife is a terrific novel and easily exceeded my already high expectations. McLain researched the hell out of this novel and it shows. She can also flat-out write. Therefore, The Paris Wife should have no problem making my year-end Best Fiction list. Please consider this novel highly recommended.

3 thoughts on “About Time I Read It: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

  1. Pingback: 2017 In Review: My Favorite Fiction | Maphead's Book Blog

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