Ernest Hemingway - an aspiring literary's ultimate fascination. Therefore, The Paris Wife peeked my interest immediately. Written from the perspective of Hemingway's first wife, the novel renders dialogue with the writer and chronicles their life together.
I enjoyed the fantasy of this novel. The concept is similar to Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler and, in fact, the two women interact often in both. I have read each and rank The Paris Wife slightly higher in entertainment and slightly lower in authenticity.
I am in a phase of my life where I am obsessed and infatuated with Paris and cannot get enough novels set in the City of Lights. With this in mind, I commend the author in creating a beautiful journey through Paris, Pamplona, and, briefly, Chicago. McLain really captured a Paris from another time and tales of the couples time in Pamplona sang to my love of The Sun Also Rises.
However, I do have one issue with this book. McLain's historical fictional depiction of Hadley is a feminist's nightmare. Though some of this characterization is natural due to the era, I felt it was overdone. Hadley was a silly girl in love throughout and never seemed to mature or grow into herself. Even in motherhood, she was not a strong woman responsible for the life of another. I would have loved to read a novel where Hemingway's wife was as iconic as he was in her own way. The Paris Wife was just as the title suggests- the story of a wife.
Overall? Read it if you liked Z: A Tale of Zelda Fitzgerald or if you want some Hemingway outside a Hemingway novel. If you're just looking for a fictional novel, keep looking.
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: November 2012