The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain
A Novel

79%

28 Critic Reviews

... the heart of the story—Ernest and Hadley's relationship—gets an honest reckoning, most notably the waves of elation and despair that pull them apart.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

“A beautiful portrait of being in Paris in the glittering 1920s—as a wife and as one’s own woman.”—Entertainment Weekly
 
A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures the love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.
 
Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
 
Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking, fast-living, and free-loving life of Jazz Age Paris. As Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history and pours himself into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises, Hadley strives to hold on to her sense of self as her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Eventually they find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.
 
A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.
 
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
 
WINNER—BEST HISTORICAL FICTION—GOODREADS CHOICE AWARDS
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PeopleChicago Tribune • NPR • The Philadelphia Inquirer • Kirkus Reviews • The Toronto Sun • BookPage
 
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About Paula Mclain

See more books from this Author
Paula McLain received her M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Michigan and has been awarded fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the author of two collections of poetry; a memoir, Like Family: Growing Up in Other People's Houses; and a first novel, A Ticket to Ride. She lives in Cleveland with her family.
 
Published February 22, 2011 by Ballantine Books. 354 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Romance, Science & Math. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Apr 17 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
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Critic reviews for The Paris Wife
All: 28 | Positive: 23 | Negative: 5

Kirkus

Good
on Apr 14 2011

A pleasure to read—and a pleasure to see Hadley Richardson presented in a sympathetic light.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Brenda Wineapple on Mar 18 2011

While McLain’s portrait of this impossible marriage can be harrowing, it can also be frustrating, for Hadley rarely emerges from her wistful cocoon.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Feb 27 2011

This novel draws heavily on research, but it does so in confounding ways.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Sarah Churchwell on Mar 25 2011

The Paris Wife sings with such pitch-perfect renderings of famous voices, grounded in a tale made all the more poignant for our knowledge of how sad all the young men and women will turn out to be, how the bright young things will tarnish and disintegrate.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Olivia Laing on Feb 19 2011

Hadley is a deeply touching character, dignified even as she loses almost everything she's loved, and making her goodness both convincing and interesting is an impressive feat.

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Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Dec 06 2010

... the heart of the story—Ernest and Hadley's relationship—gets an honest reckoning, most notably the waves of elation and despair that pull them apart.

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Examiner

Excellent
Reviewed by Kristin Wilson on Mar 26 2012

This piece of historical fiction offers insight into the life of a great writer through the eyes of a person that knew him well, his first wife.

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Examiner

Excellent
Reviewed by Crystal Falconer on Sep 03 2011

Literature lovers will be drawn into this book because it gives a touch of voyeurism into Ernest Hemingway's life and character, and the character of the literary figures he meets along the way.

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Book Reporter

Good
Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller on Mar 28 2011

It is McLain's detailed and affectionate retelling of this time gone by that will delight and charm readers of all genres.

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Washington Times

Good
Reviewed by Stephanie Deutsch on May 20 2011

Ms. McLain has done her homework in terms of events that can be established.

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Globe and Mail

Below average
Reviewed by ARITHA VAN HERK on Mar 07 2011

The Paris Wife is ultimately a tedious portrait of a naive and credulous woman.

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AV Club

Excellent
Reviewed by Donna Rifkind on Mar 24 2011

The strengths of The Paris Wife, too, are revealed as its characters are stripped of security, happiness, and purpose.

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Entertainment Weekly

Excellent
Reviewed by Lisa Schwarzbaum on Feb 23 2011

By making the ordinary come to life, McLain has written a beautiful portrait of being in Paris in the glittering 1920s — as a wife and one's own woman.

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LA Times

Below average
Reviewed by Susan Salter Reynolds on Mar 19 2011

The problem with this book-length swoon is that writer and reader overlook cliché after cliché.

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The Telegraph

Good
Reviewed by David Robson on Mar 13 2011

McLain’s beautifully imagined novel is a worthy addition to the Hemingway canon. 

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USA Today

Good
Reviewed by Jocelyn McClurg on Mar 10 2011

The evocative Paris Wife made me return to The Sun Also Rises and Hemingway's own remembrance of Paris in the '20s, A Moveable Feast 

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Andrew Imbrie Dayton on Jan 18 2013

...the language and tone are so much like a feminine version of Ernest Hemingway’s, it deserves to sit up there on the mantel beside his work, a delightful companion piece to A Moveable Feast and The Sun Also Rises.

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The Seattle Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Misha Berson on Mar 26 2011

McLain's account of Ernest's betrayal of Hadley with her conniving best friend (and his future second wife) is agonizingly poignant.

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Newsday

Excellent
Reviewed by Carmela Ciuraru on Feb 17 2011

To read this novel is to become wholly immersed in Jazz Age Paris - filled with volatile, brilliant artists hungry to make their mark, no matter who suffered grievous harm along the way.

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The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Donna Rifkind on Apr 17 2011

“The Paris Wife” is a richer and more provocative book than many reviewers have acknowledged. 

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Watermark Books And Cafe

Good
Reviewed by Shirley Wells on Jan 17 2013

Highly recommended for those interested in American literary figures or 1920s Paris or just a bittersweet love-gone-wrong story.

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Cleveland.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Nancy Connors on Feb 20 2011

McLain's engrossing and heartbreaking novel examines the marriage from Hadley's point of view. 

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The New Zealand Herald

Excellent
Reviewed by Nicky Pellegrino on Apr 04 2011

McLain has done a sterling job of turning history into fiction and bringing alive a fascinating era and a love story that deserves re-examination.

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Wise Women...Now

Below average
Reviewed by Ellen Anderman on Jul 08 2012

The Paris Wife works too hard to perfect Hadley in the reader’s eyes. 

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Patchogue Patch

Excellent
Reviewed by Jennifer Lozano on May 12 2012

It was a nice read and a wonderful insight to how the first wife of Hemingway fell in love with a writer.

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BookClubBuddy

Excellent
Reviewed by Pearl on Mar 15 2012

McLain pays proper homage to Hadley, the wife who was there at the beginning.

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Write Meg

Above average
on Oct 18 2012

Though I was occasionally frustrated by the principle players, The Paris Wife is a memorable work that has me interested in learning more about the legendary Hemingway. And maybe Wife No. 2.

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Teacher Cast

Good
Reviewed by Teacher Cast on Nov 07 2012

The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.

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Reader Rating for The Paris Wife
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