Source: Review copy from the publisher via LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Publisher: Ballantine Books
To Be Published: February 22, 2011 (today!)
Synopsis (from Amazon): 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. Hadley 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.
Overall Impression: I’d had this review copy sitting around for a while. For some reason, I never really felt the desire to pick it up. So it just sat on my nightstand for a few months until I finally decided to live up to my end of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers bargain and read it. I’m so glad I did. The story of Hadley and Hemingway was romantic and devestating and sublime. Not only did I learn about their relationship, but it was a fascinating look at that time in American and Parisian history. (And about bullfighting, coincidentally.) The way these people behaved in the Jazz Age makes today look a little puritanical. The amount of drinking reminded me of The Thin Man (review). Alcoholism before anyone really considered what alcoholism was.
More than anything, I absolutely loved Paula McLain’s writing. She created a distinct, beautiful voice for Hadley, that was full of hope and despair and resolve. It sort of reminded me of Daphne DuMaurier, both in style and substance — how far will we go for the men we love?
Side note: Noelle, you should read this book!
Positives: A great new literary voice — can’t wait to see what else McLain has to offer!
Negatives: There were a few spots where the book dragged. I also wished to know a little more about the secondary characters.
Other books I’ve read by Paula McLain: none
Other blogger opinions:
Love in the Written Word: “An era as effervescent as the wine that flowed comes alive and off the pages thanks to Ms. McLain’s skillful writing.”
Friday Morning Bookclub: “ It is a story of love, temptation and betrayal. The Paris Wife was a joy to read!”
Maurice on Books: “[McLain]has so done her homework here. I felt like I was reading a journal written, mostly by Hadley, but also by Hemingway.”
Legal gobbledygook: I received this book free from LibraryThing as part of their Early Reviewers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”