'The Paris Wife' by Paula McLain

By: Alyssa Wynans
By: Alyssa Wynans

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Yes, yes, yes. That’s all I have to say about this book. Just yes. Everything yes.

I will now attempt to form a coherent thought. McLain takes a fictional approach to the story of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, mostly told from the point of view of said first wife. I honestly could not tell you how much of it is accurate and how much of it is fiction. I’m not familiar enough with it, and I’m sure there are plenty of other people out there that are dissecting that aspect of the novel.

All I know is that McLain did a fantastic job of telling a story, accurate or not. She takes the time period and the characters, and gives them a larger than life feel that is incredibly engaging. Even the smallest of moments are told in a way that draws the reader, at least this reader, into the story.

The characters, specifically her characterization of Hemingway himself, are absolutely spell-binding. I found myself wishing I knew more about Hemingway’s work. Beyond A Farewell to Arms, I have read little of his. It wasn’t something I needed to enjoy The Paris Wife, but I think it would have enhanced my reading experience and cast light on some of the references to his body of work within the novel.

This book was no small undertaking. Writing the story, at least in part, of one of the United States’ all-time best authors is sure to draw heavy scrutiny. In my opinion, McLain tackled this task beautifully. Even if it is a bit romanticized, what more could we expect from the life of a writer like Hemingway?

I overwhelmingly recommend this book.


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