Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Paris Wife" Explores Hemingway Enigma

My eyes welled up at the conclusion of Paula McClain’s wonderful novel “The Paris Wife” which deals with the lives of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley Richardson in Paris after World War I.
Most of the novel is in the voice of Hadley, but the italicized chapters are Hemingway’s perspective.  What I found most interesting was Hemingway’s observation that “Hadley killed something in him” and Pauline (his second wife) was his future but he didn’t trust her.  This is all quite puzzling, but that’s for the good.  Hemingway, in the novel, had a “flawed keystone at the center of him,”  Hadley observed.  Although she found Hemingway to be an enigma, the five years they spent in Paris were the best in their lives.  Given that this is a novel and not a memoir, you have to assume it’s a combination of fact and fiction, but I accept it and kudos to Ms. McClain for writing a compelling novel about the century’s greatest writer.

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