Saturday, October 29, 2011
Several months ago, I came across this book in a book store. It seemed like an interesting read so I bought it having just finished my last book. The strikingly attractive cover of “The Paris Wife” depicts a glamorous, poised-looking woman perched in a Paris cafe. She wears a belted, tailored dress reminiscent of the late 1940s or early 1950s. Her face cannot be seen, but her posture radiates confidence and freedom. The picture is interesting because it has absolutely nothing to do with the book it is selling.
The heroine of “The Paris Wife” is Hadley Richardson, the athletic, sturdily built, admittedly unfashionable homebody who married Ernest Hemingway in 1921. They were divorced in 1927.
It starts out in Chicago 1920 during a party where Hadley and Ernest first meet. Following a whilwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively group "the Lost Generation" that included Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.
Once the Hemingways’ son is born, Hadley’s situation rapidly becomes untenable. Hard-partying bohemian expatriates don’t much like babies. And they don’t like fidelity either. After Hadley makes the dreadful gaffe of losing the valise that held all of Hemingway’s early work, the great man thinks he has an excuse to be angry. His mind and body begin to wander.
At this point Pauline Pfeiffer worms her way into the novel so boldly that even Hadley senses trouble. Pauline, who is as chic as Hadley is frumpy, makes herself an instant fixture in the Hemingway household. She wildly flatters Hemingway about his writing. She gives Hadley the alarming pet name “Dulla,” and then insists on becoming Hadley’s closest chum. She borrows Hadley’s slippers, merrily saying, “You won’t be able to pry them off me.” In a feat of world-class back stabbing she crusades secretly to become Hemingway’s next wife (the second of four).
All in all, even though I really enjoyed reading the book and had trouble putting it down, I really didn't like the book. I felt it was rather sad and depressing. So unless you don't mind getting depressed then I wouldn't recommend reading it.