The Paris Wife by Paula McLain | Book ReviewThe Paris Wife by Paula Mclain
Published by Ballantine Books on February 22nd 2011
Pages: 314
Format: Ebook

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


I don’t really know how to describe this book to you, most of all because it confused me to no end. There’s a lot going on and halfway you realize what way the story is going to go even though you hate it. What happened at the end pissed me off good actually, but I guess that’s just the inner feminist in me. I’m probably not making any sense, but I’m getting there.

Okay so first of all, the reason I picked up this book was because in this book Hadley is given a voice. Giving somebody like Hadley a voice is something that requires a certain amount of bravery, especially because Hemmingway is such a giant in American Literature. She not only gave her voice, but made it seem authentic and admirable. I truly admire the way Hadley is portrayed.

“Love is a beautiful liar”

This quote can be found fairly soon after you start reading, though I had no idea why it was being said, it is the first clue you get that their love story isn’t going to end well. Which it didn’t. Don’t get me wrong that’s not what pissed me off that much but it was rather the fact how it ended.

If you haven’t read the book, and want to, you might not want to read further. Because it ended horribly. Hemmingway cheats on Hadley, with her best friend… and then he actually wants the three of them to be together as a family! Oh and lets not forget their son. Hemmingway wants the four of them to live together as a family. Yeah, I guess that’s my inner feminist cussing you out Hemmingway.

I actually had to put the book down for a while, I was that mad. When I calmed down I picked the book up with a newfound respect for Paula McLain. Cause let me tell you one thing. When a writer is able to evoke such strong emotional reaction in their readers, they’ve done something right.

Which leads me to the conclusion that in my opinion, Paula McLain is one hell of a writer. The Paris Wife is a well written book that gives Hemmingway’s first wife Hadley a voice that is authentic and admirable.


“Books could be an incredible adventure.  I stayed under my blanket and barely moved, and no one would have guessed how my mind raced and my heart soared with stories.”  

“Why is it every other person you meet says they’re an artist? A real artist doesn’t need to gas on about it, he doesn’t have time. He does his work and sweats it out in silence, and no one can help him at all.”  

“Happiness is so awfully complicated, but freedom isn’t. You’re either tied down or you’re not.”