Book Club Book Review – The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain – buy on Amazon, or run to your local book store! 


{pic from Random House’s page for The Paris Wife}

Book Club Scores – 7-10

My Score – 8-9 (gut-wrenching at times, but couldn’t put it down!)

This book is about Ernest Hemingway’s life with his first wife, Hadley. The story starts in St. Louis and Chicago which appealed to our lovely midwestern group of girls. It was fun to read about places that we know, we’ve walked some of the streets that the characters walked in the book. Four of the ladies in the book group have recently traveled in France, so they enjoyed reading about places they’d seen in the past year. The places and spaces in the book set the stage for a tumultuous and doomed love affair. 

McLain does a great job of putting the reader inside Hadley’s shoes, but, interestingly, our group was split on whether she was a strong woman willing to fight for her relationship, or a weak woman that let’s her husband walk all over her. Three-quarters thought weak, I thought she was strong and wanted to fight for what she believed in – her relationship with Hemingway.

I’m not going to go into more detail, but the book comes highly recommended from our group. Even the girls that gave the book low ranks (7) said they would recommend the book. The biggest negative expressed about McLain’s novel is the discomfort and disgust for what was contained in the book. Can’t blame the book for that! But I’ll warn you, there will be moments where the foreshadowing will make you want to walk away from the book altogether because you always know what the end result is of Hadley and Hem’s life together.

I was advised by other members to read Hem’s The Moveable Feast, his writing about the period. I’ve already read The Sun Also Rises, also written at the time, and traveled to Madrid, but check that out too if you haven’t read it!

Have you read the book? Is Hadley strong or weak?

The question the drove the most discussion – would you have A) walked away from the relationship as soon as you knew what Hadley knew? Or, B) would you stick around and fight for the relationship? 




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