New York Times Bestseller The Paris Wife earns its award names


Liza Roman '14, Staff Writer

Paula McLain’s New York Times bestselling novel The Paris Wife transports you back to the 1920s in the point of view of Hadley Richardson, the 28-year-old wife who had given up on love and happiness until she is caught up in a whirlwind of love and marries Ernest Hemingway. The couple then moves from Chicago to Paris to join the golden age amongst Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

McLain decided to write from Hadley’s perspective after reading A Moveable Feast, Hemingway’s account of his early years in Paris. She researched their biographies, letters and Hemingway’s various novels in preparation of writing from Hadley’s point of view. During the time frame of this novel, Hemingway is in the process of writing his first novel, The Sun Also Rises, dedicated to Hadley and their son. As Hemingway struggles to find the voice that distinguishes him in history, we see Hadley struggling along with him to hold on to her sense of self as her roles as wife, friend, mother and muse, with more challenges every day. The hard-drinking café life does not celebrate traditional notions of family and monogamy, creating problems for the two in the fast paced city of Paris. This deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal captures the love affair between two unforgettable people, focusing on the romance, marriage and divorce of Ernest Hemingway and Hadley Richardson.

Released in 2012, this novel is the winner of the Best Historical Fiction from the Goodreads Choice Awards. It was named one of the best books of the year by People, The Chicago Tribune, NPR, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Kirkus Reviews, The Toronto Sun and BookPage. Entertainment Weekly describes the novel as “A beautiful portrait of being in Paris in the glittering 1920s- as a wife and as one’s own woman”. USA Today states that the novel is “powerful and devastating…McLain pulls off a delicate balancing act, making the macho Hemingway of myth a complex and sympathetic figure.”

While this book may be a heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, Hemingway had written that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley. This novel is phenomenal. It was given to me as a gift right before I left for Paris myself in January with the Literary Paris class from last semester, and it gave me a whole different take on the Hemingway writings I had previously read as well as my own experience in Paris. I suggest this book to those who have read Hemingway and those who haven’t alike, and everyone that I have known to read it have said they can’t put it down once they start!