09 January 2012
The Paris Wife
I've never been much of a Hemingway fan, though as a self-proclaimed vivid reader, I desire to be well versed and am familiar with his text. That being said, I was excited to read Paula McLain's The Paris Wife, the story of Hemingway's first wife, Hadley. I'm not so interested in the works of the "Lost Generation" -- but their lives have proven to be interesting, and I do need to give their works another go.
Ernest and Hadley were newly married on their Paris arrival, and he was not yet the literary genius many now consider him to be. It was interesting to read of The Shakespeare and Company, Sylvia Beach's bookstore and a gathering place for many of the "Lost Generation." We get to meet the Fitzgeralds, Zelda and F Scott; Gertrude Stein and her lover Alice; Ezra Pound and Dorothy Shakespear. Joyce is talked about but not present. Throughout the novel we see Hemingway's writing process and the journey to The Sun Also Rises, as well as see the connections from the writing to real life. Sadly, Hadley is not a character in The Sun Also Rises, and that is when the descent of their marriage occurs.
The Paris Wife is a love story, yes, but it is also a desperate story, a story about a writer, a story about ghosts that haunt, a story of how a couple can seem so solid, how a woman can still love a man, and their marriage cannot last. It is a love story and perhaps a tragedy. Hadley always loved Ernest, at least cared for him; he held a special place in her heart. But not so for he.
I really liked this reading, it was thick in content, but enjoyable. It made me want to write more. It made me want to read about Zelda and Fitz (for it seems that he was Gatsby). And isn't that what good books do? Make you want to read more? Make you want to live your life just a little different?
I have not really been exposed to the "Lost Generation" before, other than in school, and it was really neat to read about their lives and how their work was so intertwined with their very being. I can't say that I loved this book, but I highly recommend it.