When Hadley Richardson marries Ernest Hemingway he is 21. She is 29. Both come from families with domineering mothers and a history of suicide. Their vibrant and poignant love story is made all the more compelling because it’s true.
Author Paula McClain once again dives deep into the workings of the human heart and mind. The contradictions and idiosyncrasies are painfully wrought as she immerses the reader in the unconventional lives of the literati working in Paris in the twenties. Among the Hemingways’ friends were F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein.
McClain also gives us insight into the tragic genius of Ernest Hemingway himself, who most of us remember as an old man, not as the handsome young hunk he was back then. ”He was such an enigma, really—fine and strong and weak and cruel. An incomparable friend and a son of a bitch. In the end, there wasn’t one thing about him that was truer than the rest. It was all true.”
“No one you love is ever truly lost.”
At its heart this is a love story though. Hadley and Ernest never stopped loving each other, even after the break-up of their five-year marriage. As Hadley says, “I believe Ernest was his best self then. I got the very best of him. We got the best of each other.”
If you enjoy reading Hemingway, are fascinated by that time period in Paris, or are simply intrigued by the complex workings of the human heart, you might enjoy this book. It kinda makes me want to watch Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” again.
Have you read The Paris Wife? What did you think?