Friday, March 23, 2012

THE PARIS WIFE


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The Paris Wife, Paula McLain, Ballantine Books, 2011, 314 pp


I was so curious to read this novel about Ernest Hemingway's first wife. Not that I am a big Hemingway fan; I only like For Whom the Bell Tolls. The rest of his novels left me either unimpressed or filled with something between anger and disgust. Sacrilege I know, but that is the way of it.

Hadley Richardson, the wife, got what she deserved in my opinion. She comes across as far too innocent, too accommodating. She tried to turn her man into a faithful and dependable husband and as it became obvious that was not going to happen, she went on hoping. In the novel, when she finally left him, it came as a long overdue relief.

Reading about all the other authors and artists was pretty much a People Magazine-type experience. F Scott Fitzgerald did it much better in The Beautiful and the Damned. Somehow Nancy Horan's Loving Frank, though a similar tale, was exciting, tragic, even inspiring. I was expecting the same from The Paris Wife but did not get it. I am not sure if that was due to Hadley or Paula McLain; probably a bit of both.

Women beware when you decide to stand by your man if he is a self-absorbed, troubled genius. Know yourself, keep some life of your own, don't let him get away with being a jerk or cut him loose before it is too late. I mean, what do you suppose would happen if you behaved in the ways these men do? Only Simone de Beauvoir managed that and even she had her troubles.


(The Paris Wife is available in hardcover and eBook by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore. To find it at your nearest indie bookstore, click on the cover image above.)

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