Monday, April 23, 2012

Book Review - The Paris Wife

Happy Monday, everyone. Today's the big day - the first Blogger Book Club meeting!  Grab your tea, coffee, or glass of wine and join in the chat...

If you've read the Paris Wife, I really would love to hear what you have to say in the comments below, or on our Facebook page (under "Blogger Book Club", set up  by Carol at The Design Pages).

The Paris Wife is the story of Ernest Hemmingway and his wife Hadley. The story depicts their first meeting, early romance, marriage, foray into parenthood...and eventually, what tears them apart. I won't spend a lot of time recapping the book here, because I'm not really one for recalling the years of high school book reports (foreshadowing? climax? denouement?).

If you have not read the book, and don't want it spoiled, steer clear of the rest of this post - consider this your SPOILER alert!


Here's my take on it...

I thought the book was just OK. I read it after finishing the Hunger Games and Fall on Your Knees (Ann Marie Macdonald). After those exciting page turners, the Paris Wife didn't have the same level of action and anticipation. I felt that every event had a clear build up to it, without many surprises in the story.  I also didn't feel particularly attached to any of the characters.

I did enjoy the writing - it was nice, soft, and easy to read. I also enjoyed the descriptions of Paris - I was just there last spring, so it took me back! I could picture the neighbourhoods and tried to imagine the cafes and art scene as depicted in this book.
The end of the book was particulary interesting to me - trying to understand what would make Hadley stay with Ernest at first, and trying to understand how Pauline could competely sever Hemmingway's love and loyalty for his wife.

Overall, I found the pace a bit slow, but the writing was smooth and easy to read. While this book wouldn't be a book I would recommend to everyone, I do think it would be a good book to read as a "break" book - if you need a different genre from what you're used to, or if you just read a really heavy book and need a light book as a break.

What did you think?

13 comments:

Carol-Anne (Use the Good Dishes!) said...

Like you, I thought the book was "OK". It was an easy read, but I really enjoy books where I feel some connection or attachment to the characters....for some reason, I just didn't have this here.

Glad I read it and enjoyed feeling like I'd visited Paris, though!

Thanks for organizing this Book Club! (It's the only one I have time to join!)

Amy Walters said...

Just finished the book last night!
I loved the Parisian setting and '20s era of the book. I've always been inspired by the way people lived 'back in the day' and found myself very much enjoying the detailed descriptions of their day-to-day life...what they ate and drank, what they were wearing and what their surroundings looked like.
Thanks so much for setting this up Heather! xo

Amelia @ House Pretty said...

I didn't have high expectations for the book, just because I wasn't familiar with the author and I'm always weary of this type of historical fiction. That being said (or maybe because of it), I was pleasantly surprised - I'm a big fan of Hemmingway's writing, so I found reading about his life and work from the perspective of his first wife interesting and I did feel a connection to Hadley. I would agree that the book was an easy read and a great "break" book, when you're looking for something lighter - especially after something like Fall on Your Knees, which is definitely one of my favourite books of all time (have you read The Way the Crow Flies? also amazing).

Carol@TheDesignPages said...

See this is why I love book clubs, virtual or otherwise. I enjoyed learning about Hemingway so this was the right book for that. The story was repetitive and the writing was a bit flat but it was definitely an easy page turner. I also loved all the references to Paris and years ago went to Les Deux Margots for a drink just so I could say I had a drink in the same place that Hemingway once had a drink:) I think from the beginning of the book there's an overwehelming feeling that poor little Hadley is never going to be able to handle the ego and temperament of Hemingway so it's a little like watching a train derail. I kept thinking "smarten up girl" and felt a bit frustrated by her. I was totally loving the depiction of the times. Overall, not a bad book if you're looking for a light, summer read.

Like Me Some said...

I have to agree. I really enjoyed this book, but it was not a page turner or a super quick read. I did love the insight to that time and Patis and lifestyle. It was very interesting!

Ashley said...

okay can I join in with just the glass of wine and no book?

next time I will try to get in on this... the only problem... it may take me several months to get through 1 book.

great idea though! (and I see you are reading the glass castle - that book made me feel so angry and yet so lucky all at the same time)

Carissa @ the Fabulous Design File said...

I liked the book! I thought it was super sad when Hadley figured out that her marriage was over (even thought you knew it was going to happen, I guess.) And I LOVE the name Hadley! ps... are you loving the Glass Castle???

Meesh@idreamofchairs.com said...

I enjoyed the easy pace of this book. I am going to Paris in the summer, so I'm devouring anything with French Flair. :) I too was continually annoyed with Hadley! That girl needs some balls! LOL! I read this one on my iPad and I missed having the feeling of a "book" in hand. Thanks gals for getting me back into reading. Looking forward to the next one.

buddhaontheroad said...

I read the book last summer while *in* Paris, so that definitely coloured my perspective. I enjoyed sitting in caf├ęs in 2011 and immersing myself in the semi-fictional world of the 1920s.

The biggest selling point for me was that I could pick it up and put it down and not feel like I'd missed anything by doing so. This might not sound like a recommendation, but sometimes, on vacation from my day job as an academic, it's exactly what I want. It's a beach, cottage, commute, or airport read that's not totally brainless and you won't be embarrassed to be seen with...and for what it is, it's quite good.

I knew how the story ended going in, and not having Hemingway deified or his flaws glossed over (as so often happens to maintain the illusion of a "great man") was also a refreshing change.

Amy said...

I completely agree - seems like a consensus - that the book was just OK.
I was frequently annoyed with Hadley and also thought that she needed to smarten up! Interestingly, I read this right before I watched "Midnight in Paris" and enjoyed that I felt like I knew all the cameo characters... like the Fitzgeralds, etc. Can't wait to pick up the next book for the book club! Consider me hooked! :)
http://paintwinerepeat.blogspot.com

Ava said...

Like everyone else - I thought the book was OK. I had to force myself through the first half and then it got interesting. It had none of the allure of typical historical fiction because it was much too recent and the descriptions went on and on. I'm more one for action too - e.g. hunger games. But yes towards the middle when I got keen to see who he'd cheat with, how she'd find out and how she'd react.

Lindsey said...

OK, I'm a whole month late but here it is...I wasn't a huge fan of the book. I agree with Heather, I didn't get attached to any of the characters and I find that important in a book. Hadley drove me crazy, Ernest was a total ass with terrible insecurity issues and everyone else seemed quite shallow and trivial. I did, like everyone, enjoy the descriptions of Paris and the Riviera. However, has anyone ever seen Midnight in Paris? I'm not a Woody Allen fan, and wasn't a big fan of the movie but a bunch of the characters (ernest, Scott, Zelda, gertrude, alice) are also in that film. MIght be worth a rental just to see how they portray these people on film, now that you are have read this book.

Matthew (The Bibliofreak) said...

Yep, I'd add my voice to the many that have already agreed that the book is ok at best. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more to it, but I think McLain allowed herself to be constrained by facts too much, so hey ho.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...