I finished The Paris Wife 3 months ago while on a train going from Marseille back to Paris. The train ride was three hours long so I decided to write my review while the thoughts were fresh.
Now let me start by saying I really didn’t know anything about this
book before I picked it up. I knew I loved the 1920s, I was going to be
in Paris soon, and I liked what I read in the back of the book. I
appreciate this book, first of all because of the effort McLain made to
keep it historically accurate. At the end of the novel, she sites all
her sources, explaining how she was able to become a part Hadley
Richardson by reading the letters she wrote to Hemingway and other books
about her life.
This book is very emotionally draining. The love between Hadley and
Ernest is obvious, but it’s thick and kind of oppressive like humid
weather. The narrative is beautiful but also incredibly sad. We all know
Ernest wasn’t the happiest of people and takes an equally sad person to
be with him. I loved McLain’s use of first person, making all of
Hadley’s emotions that much more heart-wrenching.
I will say this book made me a little sad about my favorite era. If
any of what I read rings true, the 1920s were a wonderful beautiful
time, but disgusting and in a way sickeningly sweet. F. Scott
Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby is verified by this novel. No one
wanted to show how unhappy they were, for it wasn’t proper to ruin the
beautiful lies maintained at a surface level. Everything seemed to be in
excess; the glamour, the booze, and the love. I will still say this is
my favorite era, for more than one reason, but with good comes the bad.
I tentatively recommend this book. It’s not really for the faith
hearted or those with empathetic tendencies. It’s gorgeous and stunning
beautiful, but it will break your heart.
Overall score: A- for an amazing book that broke my heart