The Paris Wife.
Booklist Reviews 2011 February #1
History is sadly neglectful of the supporting players in the lives of great artists. Fortunately, fiction provides ample opportunity to bring these often fascinating personalities out into the limelight. Gaynor Arnold successfully resurrected the much-maligned Mrs. Charles Dickens in Girl in a Blue Dress (2009), now Paula McLain brings Hadley Richardson Hemingway out from the formidable shadow cast by her famous husband. Though doomed, the Hemingway marriage had its giddy high points, including a whirlwind courtship and a few fast and furious years of the expatriate lifestyle in 1920s Paris. Hadley and Ernest traveled in heady company during this gin-soaked and jazz-infused time, and readers are treated to intimate glimpses of many of the literary giants of the era, including Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. But the real star of the story is Hadley, as this time around, Ernest is firmly relegated to the background as he almost never was during their years together. Though eventually a woman scorned, Hadley is able to acknowledge without rancor or bitterness that "Hem" had "helped me to see what I really was and what I could do." Much more than a "woman-behind-the-man" homage, this beautifully crafted tale is an unsentimental tribute to a woman who acted with grace and strength as her marriage crumbled. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2010 September #1
McLain has done nicely with two poetry collections, a debut novel (A Ticket To Ride), and a memoir of her life in foster homes, but this evocation of Hemingway's first wife, Hadley-which is, by extension, an evocation of 1920s Paris-promises to be the author's breakout. The book reportedly sold for $500,000 after a hotly contested auction. With a five-city tour; no reading group guide, alas, though this seems a natural for book clubs. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
LJ Reviews 2010 November #2
A young Miss Hadley Richardson, with high spirits and lovely auburn hair, meets a handsome aspiring writer named Ernest Hemingway. They marry and make their way to Paris, living in a squalid apartment and spending time in café society with fellow expatriates Gertrude Stein, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, and Sylvia Beach. Though the post-World War I years offer a great deal of creative freedom for these idle Americans, self-indulgence is the code of the day. Will Hadley choose to step aside as literary success—and another woman—come to take their place in Ernest's life? In her second novel (following A Ticket To Ride), McLain creates a compelling, spellbinding portrait of a marriage. Hemingway is a magnetic figure whose charm is tempered by his dark, self-destructive tendencies. Hadley is strong and smart, but she questions herself at every turn. Women of all ages and situations will sympathize as they follow this seemingly charmed union to its inevitable demise. VERDICT Colorful details of the expat life in Jazz Age Paris, combined with the evocative story of the Hemingways' romance, result in a compelling story that will undoubtedly establish McLain as a writer of substance. Highly recommended for all readers of popular fiction. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/10.]—Susanne Wells, P.L. of Cincinnati & Hamilton Cty., OH[Page 60]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
LJ Reviews Newsletter
McLain's fictional account of the real-life marriage between Hadley Richardson and Ernest Hemingway shares a similar pacing, attention to detail, and intimacy among characters as Rideout's description of Ruth and Mallory's marriage. Although Richardson was older than Hemingway, he still managed to sweep her off her feet. McLain presents Richardson's observant and strong voice in a new light. Vividly set in Paris and the other epicenters of Hemingway's early years, the novel paints a vibrant portrait of the couple. McLain brings forth all the expected cameos—Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein—and inevitably, Pauline, the woman who ultimately came between the couple. McLain traces the allegiance of a woman whose husband had other things on his mind and other alliances to pursue. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2010 December #1
McLain (A Ticket to Ride) offers a vivid addition to the complex-woman-behind-the-legendary-man genre, bringing Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, to life. Meeting through mutual friends in Chicago, Hadley is intrigued by the brash "beautiful boy," and after a brief courtship and small wedding, Hadley and Ernest take off for Paris, "the place to be," according to Sherwood Anderson. McLain ably portrays the cultural icons of the 1920s—Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, and Ezra and Dorothy Pound—and the impact they have on the then unknown Hemingway, casting Hadley as a rock of Gibraltar for a troubled man whose brilliance and talent were charged and compromised by his astounding capacity for alcohol and women. Hadley, meanwhile, makes a convincing transformation from an overprotected child to a game and brave young woman who puts up with impoverished living conditions and shattering loneliness to prop up her husband's career. The historical figure cameos sometimes come across as gimmicky, but the heart of the story—Ernest and Hadley's relationship—gets an honest reckoning, most notably the waves of elation and despair that pull them apart. (Mar.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC