A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Friday, February 1, 2019

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- The Paris Wife by Paula McLain- Feature and Review


A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley. 

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. 

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises. Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold on to her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for. 

A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.



The Paris WifeThe Paris Wife by Paula McLain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 I didn't know anything about any of Hemingway's wives. So, all of this material was new to me. The setting is 1920's postwar Paris. The days before Hemingway was an icon. Hadley was 9 years older than Ernest. She falls in love with him against the advice of her best friend, who is also in love with Ernest.

Hadley is still going through a dark period in her life, after her controlling mother passed away and Ernest is attempting to recover from his time in the war, having been wounded and suffering from nightmares.  But, Ernest  proposes to Hadley in a letter, and she accepts

They marry without the blessing of their friends. There is no doubt the two are in love, at least in the beginning. But, Hadley has a difficult time adjusting to Paris and Ernest's dark moods. But, if this book is anything remotely accurate in the way Hadley handled and supported Ernest, she's a saint in my book. She makes one really HUGE mistake, though, which caused a rift the marriage never recovered from. Then she becomes pregnant before Ernest is ready for parenthood, which causes more difficulties.

They drink WAY too much, and are surrounded by friends and mentors who lead fast, unconventional lives. These people are way too modern for Hadley, who doesn't wear the latest fashions and has a moral code she lives by. It all eventually spirals out of control.

I could relate to Hadley a great deal, but also felt that she put up with too much from her husband, for too long. It is an emotional book, and the setting is so interesting. The author made me feel like I was actually there experiencing everything just the way Hadley did, which makes this a unique experience.





Paula McLain is the author of the New York Times and internationally bestselling novels, The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun. She’s also published two collections of poetry, Less of Her and Stumble, Gorgeous, the memoir Like Family: Growing Up in Other People's Houses, and a first novel, A Ticket to Ride. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan in 1996, and has since received fellowships from the Corporation of Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Ucross Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council, the Cleveland Arts Prize, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, Real Simple, Town & Country, The Guardian and Good Housekeeping. She lives with her children in Cleveland, Ohio.

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