Book Review: The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Genre: Historical Fiction


“It gave me a sharp kind of sadness to think that no matter how much I loved him and tried to put him back together again, he might stay broken forever.”

The Paris Wife is a heartbreaking portrayal of love and betrayal between Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. Prior to reading this novel, I knew very little about Ernest Hemingway as a writer. More than that, I knew nothing about his life as a husband, father and, ultimately, a philanderer.

The story is told through the eyes of Hadley, who unexpectedly meets and falls in love with Hemingway during a visit to Chicago in December 1920. After a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the two move to Paris where they experience the fast-paced and lavish life of the Jazz Age. While abroad, Hemingway writes one of his most famous pieces, The Sun Also Rises, and earns a name for himself as a writer. However, as Hemingway’s career begins to advance, his marriage begins to deteriorate. Shortly after the novel is published, Hadley becomes aware of an affair that ultimately leads to their divorce.

I must admit that I am often not one for historical fiction but I could not help but fall in love with the relationship between Hadley and Ernest. After reading The Paris Wife, I was impelled  to read more about Ernest Hemingway, his career and his various wives and mistresses.  McClain does a beautiful job representing Hadley’s struggle with love and marriage through the beginning of Hemingway’s career. More so, the reader is convinced of the love they shared. The story is touching and heart felt especially since Hemingway later wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley. The love story between Hemingway and his Paris Wife was one definitely worth experiencing.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Have you read the Paris Wife? Please share your thoughts below!