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Hemingway was a journalist and aspiring novelist when he met Hadley in 1920, and after they married, they moved together to Paris at the urging of author Sherwood Anderson, who told them it was the place to be for writers. Over the next half-decade except for one brief stint in Toronto after the birth of their son the Hemingways lived, loved, and drank with everyone from James Joyce and Gertrude Stein to Ezra Pound and Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (all of whom MacDuffie voices captivatingly). But though their relationship seemed rock-solid to even the closest members of their inner circle, outside forces slowly chipped away at the life they’d built together.
Hemingway spent the whole of his marriage to Hadley working on his novels including some early drafts of the Nick Adams stories and the piece that would become The Sun Also Rises and The Paris Wife lets the twin plots of his career and their marriage unfold. Hadley, who narrates much of the book, is a reliable and relatable character, and MacDuffie gives her the range of maturity, emotion, and strength that she undoubtedly had. The Hemingway connection may draw in curious fans and avid literature buffs, but her gentle voice and easy manner will keep listeners hooked. Blythe Copeland
Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet 28-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.
Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises.
Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold onto her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.
A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Sara on 10-06-15
I really wanted to love this story of fiction about real people and at first I thought that it was going to be a great. Then, very quickly, I started to notice that the forceful, over the top narration was distracting me from the writing. I was overpowered by the voices and my mind wandered from what the narrator was saying to how she was saying it. I could not follow and enjoy the story. It was so strange. I think the only way I will be able to get past chapter three is if I read the book in print. In a way the book felt like it was for the young adult audience. Maybe that was just because the narration sounded so juvenile. Giving up.
40 of 44 people found this review helpful
By SarahHouston on 10-24-11
Interesting and entertaining, well read
I really enjoyed this book and find it hard to understand why so many reviewers criticize the reader. I think she does an excellent job and her voice for Hadley and others in the book fits the time period perfectly. The story is fiction but appears to be very much based on fact. It's a fascinating look at an era and many famous characters, such as F Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein etc.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful