I love to read about Hemingway and in fact dragged my parents to visit his house when we were in Key West when I was younger. Paula McLain’s latest novel, The Paris Wife, captures Paris through the eyes of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson.
This is one of those novels that I could not put down hence why I am sitting here at my computer yawning while I write. The story begins in the Midwest in the early 1920′s, where a young Ernest Hemingway meets and falls in love with Hadley Richardson, a woman 7 years older.
It was with her that he spent those years in Paris living that life that is so well-known as an artist retreat along with James Joyce, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein, who all put in an appearance as well.
The novel is set up flawlessly from the beginning. We are given an in detail look so we can understand where the couple have come from. Anyone who knows anything at all about Hemingway knows he was married and divorced many, many times. So we know right from the get-go that this marriage is doomed. But now I know why none of Hemingway’s marriages worked. His alcoholism and depression were too much for him to handle.
After finishing this story I believe that Richardson was the all consuming love of Hemingway’s life. I have heard it said that he wished he could have made it work with Hadley, and that he loved her all his life. But the disease he struggled to overcome most of his adult life wrapped itself around him and would never let go in addition, armed with the sad truth that Hemingway committed suicide, the darkness in him also served as a type of foreshadowing. I knew how the story would end and yet still I couldn’t put it down.