The Paris Wife

By Paula McLain
(Ballantine Books, Hardcover, 9780345521309, 320pp.)

Publication Date: February 22, 2011

List Price: $25.00*
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the March 2011 Indie Next List
“This beautifully written story captures that electric time, the 1920's in that electric city, Paris, through the eyes of Hadley Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway's first wife. While Hadley reveals the strengths and, ultimately the weaknesses in her complex and fascinating marriage, readers are treated to a novel rich in detail and riddled with real-life characters who fascinate us all.”
-- Jeanne Regentin, Between the Covers, Harbor Springs, MI


Description

A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

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. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises. Hadley, meanwhile, 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. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.

A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.




About the Author
Paula McLain received an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan, and has been a resident of Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. She is the author of two collections of poetry and a memoir, and lives in Cleveland with her family.


NPR
Tuesday, Mar 1, 2011

Paula McLain's new novel, The Paris Wife, tells the story of Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway's first wife and companion during his Paris years. Hemingway and Richardson were blissfully in love â?? until he left her for her best friend. More at NPR.org

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Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. In many ways, Hadley's girlhood in St. Louis was a difficult and repressive experience. How do her early years prepare her to meet and fall in love with Ernest? What does life with Ernest offer her that she hasn't encountered before? What are the risks?

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