Thoughts on The Paris Wife

The following post isn’t a review, exactly. More like an immediate reaction to the novel.

I’ve just finished reading The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain. Let me tell you, even though I knew how this book would inevitably end, I find myself crushed by this one.

It begins in Chicago in 1921, Hemingway a strapping 21 year old, and ends in a plethora of places, because marriages don’t end all at once, do they? Perhaps I’m writing this too soon after finishing the book, but this is a literary journal, is it not? I fell in love with this book at the Prologue. The writing enchanted me, and I couldn’t wait to read about how the first girl snagged Ernest Hemingway – it’s quite romantic. It’s delightful to read about falling in love, but who can take reading passage after passage of failing love, of a crumpling marriage – especially when both parties are still very much in love? Especially when they see their peers failing in the same ways…

Young people should read this novel to learn that giving into temptation doesn’t ultimately make anyone happy, does it? Even decades later Ernest Hemingway (at least in the book) realizes that in the grand scheme of his life, his betrayal of Hadley only four years into their marriage, was one of the biggest mistakes he’d ever made.

Hemingway is my favorite classic novelist, A Farewell To Arms & The Sun Also Rises are two of my favorite books ever. I own many of his works, and yet haven’t read them because they’re on ration throughout my lifetime, so there will always be something new. I love his writing, and I like to picture him working, writing, someone who was so dedicated and masterful at his craft…reading this ‘interpretation’ of his first marriage, and perhaps only true love brought me to my knees. This feeling I have after reading the last third of the book is really an emotional blow.

I actually love this book. The writing is very good, and I obviously love the subject. Paula McLain did such a good job, in fact, that I’m quite upset with Mr. Hemingway at the moment. I’m torn between wanting to read one of his books right now, or whether to put them all somewhere I can’t see them for awhile, the bastard.

Emma.

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