Silver Lining Book: The Paris Wife

A Silver Lining to my omnipresent fatigue is that I am able to read.  I can’t tell you how happy this makes me!  I’m a real-book reader as in the kind that has pages.  Though I’ve read a couple of books on my iPad (when traveling), I love the sensual experience of reading a book:  sight, smell, and touch (no, I haven’t tasted any!)

I was telling a friend the other day that as a little girl, I dreamed of owning a bookshop where people would gather to share stories, reflect on books and daydream.  Since I don’t have that place in my life, I have created a cozy space on my couch, next to a big window with a delicious cup of cinnamon tea and a new book, The Paris Wife by Paula McClain.

I was excited to read this book after reading the NYT Review of it and because I love all things related to Paris.

The novel is set in the Twenties, when Hemingway was forging his reputation as a writer, and is narrated by Hadley Richardson, Hemingway’s first wife (of four). She was born in St Louis, Missouri, and had a sheltered, almost oppressive childhood. Her marriage to Hemingway, a struggling journalist eight years her junior, came as a surprise to her friends; but it was a love match, at least to begin with. Soon after the wedding, the couple moved to Paris, the epicentre of the literary and cultural world.

Hadley Hemingway  is such a good person, almost too good, putting a devotion to her philandering, narcissistic husband before all else, including her own self-worth. Though I found myself very frustrated with her at times, I wondered by the end, who the genius in the pair truly was.

This is the story of the tragic unwinding of a beautiful romance, full of despair and hope. Hemingway was clearly a man who knew how to love in the deepest way, yet couldn’t protect his relationships or himself from his own arrogance or demons.

Hemingway would later write lovingly about Hadley in “A Moveable Feast,” when he says that he would rather have died than have loved anyone other than Hadley. That felt very redeeming to me.

On another note, The HOTY (a/k/a Husband of the Year) and I make a special point of going to Bar Hemingway at The Ritz whenever we are in Paris. The bar is run by Colin Field, twice voted “The Best Bartender in the World” by Forbes magazine. It is an extraordinarily special and incredibly entertaining (albeit spendy!) place that holds lots of fond memories for us.

This book and memories of our trips to Bar Hemingway were a perfect rainy-day read (SL)!

Courage is grace under pressure.

– Ernest Hemingway

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  1. Caron says

    I bought the book and am devouring it! It's chocolate lit.
    Italy next week to work on shoes, Hollye! I hope I can share with you something that makes you as happy as this book, and your blog, has made me.

  2. Nicole Brownell says

    I will have to pick up this one! Sounds like a very good read. I have not been to Bar Hemingway at the Ritz in Paris for probably a decade, but remember it fondly. Very warm and cozy place.