31 January 2011

The Paris Wife


I love the cover of this book! The Paris Wife is a fictionalized story of Ernest Hemingway's first marriage to Hadley Richardson. Hadley narrates the story, starting in October 1920, as she meets Ernest while visiting a friend in Chicago. Her account is gripping from the beginning, but about halfway through the book I felt it dragged a bit in places. Then I suddenly realized it was reading more like a memoir than a novel. I had felt more involved and engaged in the beginning. That feeling did return, however, in scenes where Hadley talks about her life before Ernest, and when Hadley and Ernest are living their lives together without the continual appearances of other writers and literary friends and acquaintances.

I cannot profess to be a fan of Hemingway's work, simply because I've not read anything by him. Nor am I very familiar with the other authors who float in and out of the story, with the exception of Scott Fitzgerald (and Zelda). So that may have contributed to my starting to lose interest when Hadley detailed all their many comings and goings.

Interspersed among the chapters are a handful of very short sections told in third person from Ernest's point of view. I understand their purpose - they give us, the reader, some insight into Ernest and his actions (or reactions). But I found those chapters a little jarring and unnecessary to the story, and I think if I'd skipped them, I wouldn't have really missed anything.

Overall I enjoyed the book. I love the 20's - the music, the clothes, the slang, and following Hadley's life with Ernest was a wonderful glimpse of the times.

(I received this ARC in a giveaway from Random House. The book goes on sale 2/22/11.)

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