- I received an ARC last year that I just now got to reading.
I also recommend:
- Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
- The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes
Summary from GoodReads:
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 and her life changes forever. 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 and Zelda Fitzgerald.
Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill-prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will becomeThe Sun Also Rises. Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold on to her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually 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.
I wasn’t really introduced to The Lost Generation until this year. Although I consider myself to be a widely read person, I had been afraid to tackle the majority of the people lumped into this group – in fact, all of them except for Fitzgerald, who I just read last year.
But this year I experienced Hemingway, Stein, Pound and Joyce. I dug deep into short stories and longer books. It gave me an appreciation for this era of literature, one that was not there a year ago. Yet, one year ago I received a copy of The Paris Wife to review and, not being familiar with most of the names held within it, I put it on the shelf to get to when I had time. Thank goodness I did, because I appreciated this book so much more as a result.
Although I’ve read some of Hemingway’s works now, I wasn’t familiar with his personal life. This is a very close and intimate look at him through the eyes of his first wife, “The Paris Wife,” as she calls herself later on. It gives a very bleak picture of just how poor they were in Paris, how much was sacrificed for his work, and how dismal things were for this incredible writer. Not only that, but it painted a very human picture of Hemingway – not demonizing him but not yet making him out to be an incredible person. It’s a fine balance when an author tackles a larger-than-life figure like Hemingway and gives us a picture of both his imperfect humanity contrasted with his genius talent.
I loved this book. I’d heard rave reviews of it from friends but, I’ll be honest, I did not expect it to be as engrossing as it was. I read the entire book in an evening – and aside from one slight complaint (there really was a lot of name-dropping), I found it to be thoroughly entertaining and a fantastic resource when studying the life of Ernest Hemingway.
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