Thursday, January 2, 2014
Just finished: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
"I would gladly have climbed out of my skin and into his that night, because I believed that was what love meant. Hadn't I just felt us collapsing into one another, until there was no difference between us?
It would be the hardest lesson of my marriage, discovering the flaw in this thinking. I couldn't reach into every part of Ernest and he didn't want me to."
And there went my evenings until I had devoured this book. I was desperate to know how it all would end. An impossible feeling on page 59 of a 314 page book. But don't worry, I won't spoil it for you-I'll just make you nearly as desperate as I was to crawl and collapse into this book for a night or two.
This is no spoiler;if you know Hemingway, you know his Paris Wife was not his one and only. We already know the ending. You don't read it to find out what happened, but to understand why.
Hadley Richardson is naïve and head-over-heels in love. The scribbled words on endless sheets of letter paper are what bring them together, and this same frantic passion that drives them together will eventually ruin them. She falls in love with his words and becomes consumed by his promises. He falls in love with her support and steadfast loyalty.
The book follows them on their journey from meeting in Chicago at a small party (who wants to marry someone named Ernest Hemingway? What kind of name is that?-her friend exclaims). The book leads them to the stumbling down the uneven streets of Paris in a drunken stupor alongside the even more intoxicated and wild Fitzgerald. James Joyce walks the streets with his throngs of children in tow, and Gertrude Stein counsels Hemingway on his writing. As good as Hemingway might've been at making friends, his growing ego will cause him enemies. I felt excited as I recognized famous characters sprawled across the pages. I know them!
Hadley is the woman who doesn't quite fit, the one each man wants to have as his wife, but no longer his muse. Instead she'll watch as his writing takes over, and she becomes the character written out of the plot. But there is a quiet strength that Hadley possesses that will keep you turning the pages, and after breaking down your resolve, McLain will remind you that no love is ever lost.
“The first and final thing you have to do in this world is to last it and not be smashed by it.”
― Ernest Hemingway
Ironically, it will be Hadley who is able to do just that.
Currently Reading : Girl in the Blue Dress
Moving on to: Hemingway's Boat, A Farewell to Arms