19 April 2013

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

I had seen The Paris Wife advertised all over the place last month and after a year of saying, "I really want to read that!" I decided to give it a go. 
Now I'm not going to say it was as bad a Juliette, but I will not be recommending this book to anyone. Ever. 
I was excited to read this book because it is about the first wife of Ernest Hemingway. Even if most of the story is fiction, I like reading about the lives of writers. No matter how much you read in biographies, or even autobiographies, there is something really fascinating in seeing another writer put the famous person in question into real life situations. I am a huge C. S. Lewis fan and have read his autobiography many times. There is still something, possibly magical, about seeing Anthony Hopkins portray Jack on screen that makes me all giddy inside.

I am not huge into  Hemingway history. I've read a bit of his work for school and after watching In Love and War, I read A Farewell to Arms. Well, I started reading A Farewell to Arms. (Though after Pat's reaction to the book in Silver Linings Playbook, maybe it's good that I didn't finish it.) I can't say that I'm an expert on his life. Maybe if I was more of one, I would have found this book more interesting. 
I found it intriguing at all because it's about the woman behind the man. Well, the first woman behind the man. Also, it's Paris in the 20s.Talk abut the golden age of writing! (And as another side note, I watched Midnight in Paris shortly after finishing this book. So good! I loved it! Part of it really resonated because of what I had read about other writers of the time. Also, Tom Hiddleston was F.Scott Fitzgerald. So. Yeah...)
Hadley Richardson is twenty eight and practically an old spinster by the time she meets Ernest Hemingway. They fall deeply in love and are married less than a year after they meet. Their relationship is tempestuous; Hemingway is a man who is first married to his work and married to Hadley second. Or, as time goes by, maybe not even to her. 

Like I said, it was interesting. But...it was a difficult read. It wasn't really about Hemingway; it was about Hadley. It was how she dealt with things, her emotions and her interpretation of their relationship. And as silly as this is, it was hard to follow because they used so many nicknames. Nicknames for Ernest and Hadley changed all the time and at one point they use the same nickname for each other! It is really difficult for me to keep track of the characters. There wasn't a whole lot of dialogue in this book. It was an interesting concept, but not a terribly compelling read. 

My go to book about authors & romance is, you guessed it, Possession by A. S. Byatt. I'll keep my eye out for other fictionalized accounts of real life authors, though. Do you have a favorite almost-true novel?

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