Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Paris Wife: Loved It
By Paula McLain
Growing up what did I know about Ernest Hemingway? Not much, believe it or not, it was not mandatory to read the contemporary greats, like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, and Hemingway. Instead I read Catcher in the Rye.
The only facts and rumors I knew was, that he lived in Key West with his many cats. He committed suicide. He has a grand daughter, Muriel a actress. I was never interested in Hemingway, pretty bad.
The worst, I was a reader, and lover of books, but not as much as now. I lived in Miami, a short distance from the Keys. I visited the Keys. I did not realize that Hemingway was a big deal. I did not visit his home while I was there.
Even making matters even worse, I had a short Persian white cat, I named Hemingway. Why, I don't know. I was not fascinated with him.
Years later, I was taking a American history class. I had a project that I decided to do it on F. Scott Fitzgerald, and fit it with the Prohibition. That is when I became fascinated with the time period of the Jazz Age, the Speakeasies, and the "lost generation", the group that were in Paris. That is what brought me to read Paris Wife.
I loved it, it has romance, historical fiction, dysfunctional family, infidelity what else could you ask for? This is the story of young, Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley. They go abroad, and meet the other expatriates, the lost generation( F Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Picasso, and others). So dubbed by Gertrude Stein.
What was so fascinating was a novel based on my favorite, writing and his books, and Hemingway's process of writing. The novel follows historical facts, and what makes this fiction, the author took liberties and filled in the blanks of the human side of Hadley, and Hemingway.
Both of them had strange families. Hemingway's mother liked to dress him up like a girl( you can read it to that can't you- his "macho image"). Hadley was too overly protected, shy and sheltered. Always had her nose in a book. She was so happy to finally escape her mother's clutches. He was larger than life, charismatic, had lots of energy So to meet Hemingway was perfect timing.
Hadley was 29 years old when she meets Ernest, 21 years old. I am not going to write a synopsis, since the book pretty much follows his biographical history.
The few points that I found was to discuss: Hadley loosing the suitcase. Hemingway's reaction did not seem to fit. He did not go ballistic. That was he's sweat and tears, of long hours of work. Do you think you would have just shrugged it off?
The author has said on a video that she fell in love with Hemingway. What is there to fall in love with? He is anti-feminist, self centered, alcoholic, forced to have children in his eyes.
I know that was Hadley's choice to support her husband. She stood back and allowed him to create. She wanted to be around other intellectuals rather than be in the corner of the wives talking frivolously. She literally supported her husband in every sense. She sacrificed herself and her career.
He wanted both worlds, Hadley old fashioned with stuffy clothes, and Pauline was high society with lots of extravagance and frivolousness.
Hadley agrees to let Pauline stay in their own home. I think she only did this for Hemingway to prove that she was modern, rather than Victorian. What women would let her husband bring the girlfriend home?? Reminded me of 19th Wife. This the author fell in love with? Is she nuts? Or the larger than life myth of the man?
At the end I think his fame cost him his many friendships and his marriage to Hadley.
Still all in all, I still enjoyed reading about the literary world of the 1920's and Paris. I enjoyed the writing style of the author. The beauty of her words, and the description of Paris was wonderful.
Paris Wife has many points to discuss at a book club, actually to many at one sitting. Our book club read Paris Wife, and had a book event with a local university professor. That will be posted on another post soon.
By Ernest Hemingway
This is the first book I read by Ernest Hemingway. His sentences are short and to the point, and very dry. There is no emotion. I did read that Hemingway was the first person that had a journalistic way of writing. This changed the way writers wrote.
Hemingway's Moveable Feast was a book full of regrets of his early years with his wife, Hadley, and some of his friends like F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein.
It seems while reading, that he was very jealous of Fitzgerald's gift of writing. He hated Zelda, his wife. He felt she was getting in the way of his writing.
I am going to try reading, Farewell to Arms. A friend of mine told me to start there.
I will be posting soon about our book event discussing Paris Wife.