Guest Blogger: Elizabeth Wieck
In Paula McLain's recent novel, The Paris Wife, nothing she conveys is of the ordinary sort. The book illuminates the marriage of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, and their escapades in Paris and other parts of Europe. The imagery is magnificent, with the perfect balance of romance and reality to create a beautiful yet heartbreaking story of love, literature, and betrayal.
The book begins in Chicago, where Hadley and Hemingway meet and a whirlwind of a courtship proceeds. The two find themselves married, and on in whim in hopes of advancing Hemingway's career, they move to Paris. Despite a few desolate situations and living quarters, the Hemingways quickly find themselves as the golden couple in one of the foremost literary groups, which includes writers such as Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald. As Hemingway's popularity in the literary world increases, heartbreak and deceit plague the couple, thinly veiled by the hazy splendor of heavy drinking and lavish seaside getaways.
Fans of Hemingway will immediately become engrossed in the book. The author lived a rather colorful life, and McLain does a wonderful job of combining his personal and literary life to create a strikingly plausible situation for the Hemingways during their time in Paris. She especially highlights the numerous trips they spent in Pamplona, Spain, where his novel The Sun Also Rises takes place.
Anyone who knows a fact or so about Hemingway knows that Hadley was not his first wife. He, in fact, married three times more after her. Thus, McLain's Paris romance is atypical in that it does not end in a glorious union with abounding fireworks. Despite the desires of the world to continually have a blissful and agreeable ending, The Paris Wife rationalizes the realities of life, giving weight the negative while still emphasizing the beautiful.