Book Review: The Paris Wife

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The Paris Wife

From Goodreads: 
A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wifecaptures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-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 becomeThe Sun Also Rises. Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold on to 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.

My Thoughts:
I thought I was going to love this book. There were parts that I liked and other parts that I just couldn't become invested. I was bored...through most of it. Unfortunately, as my "baby books to read" pile grew higher and higher, I couldn't focus on this book at this given time, so this might be an unfair review. I felt there was no excitement or suspense it was mostly following around Ernest Hemingway's boring, depressed wife, Hadley, throughout their marriage. I don't know much about Ernest Hemingway, or his books: perhaps I should, and perhaps it would have shed some more light onto the story for me. Hadley was a pretty annoying character who I somehow felt sorry for and yet didn't at the same time. She wallowed in her own self-pity most of the time and was incredibly needy.  

The plot didn't pick up until near the end of the book as their marriage officially begins to fall apart. So it got a little bit more interesting, but Hadley still did some pretty incredibly dumb things (Pretending to be asleep in the bed next to her husband as his mistress climbs into bed on the other side!?!?!) In the end, she finds her voice and the strength to leave him. They go on to marry others: Hemingway, 3 others to be exact. However, they always believed that they had a love that was pure and true, despite the fact that it didn't work out for them.


  1. While I don't know a lot about the Hemmingways or their marriage there are two things that must be taken into consideration in understanding this story; 1920's and Paris. Women had no voice and no monetary means to support themselves other than their attachment to either their fathers or their husbands. Women didn't have many choices back in that time and place so they put up with unthinkable things by today's standards. I'm glad Hadley, as well as women world wide, found her voice. Thanks for the great thought provoking review.

  2. I'm glad you felt the same way I did...I started to read it, hated it, and promptly returned it to the library!

  3. I haven't read this yet and have so many other books on my to-read list that I probably won't. I think one of my next reads is going to be The Book Thief, which I remember you saying you loved. I saw the movie trailer, too, and it looks really good!

  4. I thought I was going to love the book, too and actually really really disliked it which was frustrating!


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