Book Review: The Paris Wife

The Paris WifeThe Paris Wife by Paula McLain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Love stories aren't really my thing. Love stories that have a tragic ending are totally my thing. This book lands right in the middle of those two distinctions. This book was a fictional portrayal of Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley. As she was depicted in this book, I really didn't love Hadley as the narrator and protagonist. At no point did I feel she was remarkable and therefor I found it hard to understand why someone like Hemingway would have have fallen so hard for her. Perhaps that was the author's intent? Yet, even though the love story wasn't really my thing and I felt Hadley was a bit of a lame-o jellyfish, I really liked this book.

The reading was easy; Paula McLain is a good writer. She really takes you on an amazing journey through the time of the Lost Generation and really got me interested in Hemingway as a person. Reading about Hemingway's struggle as a writer really hit home. After getting a peek at this struggle, I'd love to make Hemingway the next classic I read, specifically The Sun Also Rises. I also would be interested in reading a biography or memoir about him. Even though I am not interested in anything that he was - boxing, bullfighting, skiing, etc. - I was still very interested in the man. I think it'd be interesting to get into the head of someone that was so bold and arrogant. And obviously mental.

It was great reading about Paris, the Swiss Alps, the Riviera, and Pamploma. Life is short, so it's always such a treat when a book helps you see places in your imagination when you might not get to them in real life. The book really painted the picture of these locations well without going Lord-of-the-Rings overboard on the surroundings. This was really the first time I feel I got a good long look into the Lost Generation. I was having trouble wrapping my head around how the heck a new, struggling writer and his new, non-working wife could afford all this travel and vacation time. As I pondered this question, I realized that the answer was: have a bunch of rich buddies. Also, that it was a way, way different time. It's good to blast 90 years into the past.

This is the kind of book that makes me like fiction. It's a good story, told during an amazing time, with characters that revolve around writing. Even when I was reading something I didn't like or agree with (like all the unseemly relationships and arrangements that were rampant), I still was compelled to finish and was very happy that I did.

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