PARIS WIFE by Paula McLain is a fictionalized account of Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage to Hadley Richardson, and the time they spent together in Paris during the 1920s. Hadley Richardson was not glamorous; indeed in the eyes of Hemingway’s increasingly sophisticated circle of friends she was probably seen as a liability. And she couldn’t compete with the alluring determined, shrewd woman, who beguiled her way into the Hemingway’s marriage by presenting herself as Hadley’s friend, and succeeded in becoming the second Mrs. Ernest Hemingway.
So it was an interesting choice to tell the story of the marriage using Hadley’s voice, especially as Hadley fails to keep her marriage. Or rather, she makes a choice not to fight for it. Which makes her an interesting protagonist, the protagonist who walks away from a fight.
But I don’t think most people will walk away from this novel thinking that Hadley was weak, or made the wrong decision, because what comes across so well in this book is how difficult Hemingway himself was. A great writer, yes. A great person to live with? Not so much.
If you enjoy reading about the twenties, then I highly recommend this book. Five stars.