Summer Reading List: The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife
Paula McLain

It is infrequent that a contemporary work of fiction moves me to such lengths as could be described as obsession, but Paula McLain's account of the ill fated love story of Ernest Hemingway and Hadley Richardson achieved just that.

McLain paints a picture of Jazz Age Paris which is peopled with the figures of literary mythology, from the Fitzgeralds to Gertrude Stein.  (I myself am fascinated by Zelda Fitzgerald.)  The extravagance, the drinking and the infidelity make that world sparkle, but also colour it with pain and heartbreak.  All in all, the book makes a poignant statement about the nature of heartbreak that will have you sobbing in sympathy.

The writing style is well paced and suitably decorative, without a hint of cliche or purple prose.  This is a rare combination in a book which, while classified as literary fiction, is ostensibly a romance.  It is a perfect introduction to the writing of the Fitzgeralds and Hemingway himself, and it will have you wanting to dance the charleston and drink absinthe until morning.

I give this book 5 out of 5 charging bulls.