I just finished listening to Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife, read by Carrington MacDuffie and it was a most satisfactory experience. I am not much of a current fiction reader – not necessarily a good thing for a librarian! – so I am probably the only person currently alive who didn’t know that this is an historical fiction account of Ernest Hemingway’s early years in Paris told from the point of view of his first wife, Hadley Richardson.
I am also rather sheepishly admitting here that I, as far as I can remember, have never read any Hemingway! I’m not sure how that can be, but sadly it is so. This fictional account based on what must have been an enormous body of research brings the 1920’s Jazz Age Paris era and the Hemingways and their circle of friends and acquaintances vibrantly alive. Hadley and Ernest, two young and innocent newlyweds from the midwest, choose to move to Paris where Ernest is assured his career will take off. They are poor as church mice and ill equipped to handle the “anything goes” environment they find themselves in but they are hopelessly in love and do what they have to do to survive.
Among their circle of friends are the likes of Sherwood Anderson, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and the Fitzgeralds of F. Scott and Zelda fame, James Joyce, Pablo Picasso, Ford Madox Ford, and John Dos Passos among many others and it was fun to get a feel for what this stellar cast of characters was doing at this time in history. I am now listening to A Moveable Feast, Hemingway’s own account of the same time period which was published posthumously in 1964. It is equally as interesting, if different, and is deliciously read by James Naughton. Next up will be The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway’s tour de force published in 1926. I think I’m a fan!