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The Paris Wife

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The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, book reviewThe Paris Wife is an intriguing look at the life of a literary legend from a different perspective, a novel in which Ernest Hemingway’s first wife tells us her version of their marriage, and their life in 1920s Paris, including encounters with other American expat writers.

I was attracted to this novel by hearing an abridged serialisation on the radio – the confiding intimacy of the first person narrative worked really well in this form, as does the selection of dramatic incidents and turning points in their relationship.

This novel worked well as a piece of storytelling – it must be 3 times the length of Hemingway’s own account of that period of his life in A Moveable Feast, a memoir in the form of a series of vignettes. McLain acknowledges that she drew on the memoir, which I read afterwards for comparison, and I did recognise a lot of the events Hadley describes.

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