Recently, I read The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, which is told from the point of view of Hadley Richardson, Hemingway’s first wife. As always when I read historical fiction on real-life people, I want to read a biography to try to find out how much is true and how the true events took place. I have bought several books on Hemingway’s life and this is the first one that I read.
It is an excellent book, written in beautiful prose, and like so many of the good writers of biographies, it is more exciting and interesting as any fiction. One can of course say, that Hemingway’s life was more exciting the most, but still. Reynolds has written five books about Hemingway; The Young Hemingway, The Paris Years, The Homecoming, The 1930s, and The Final Years. This is the second part of his life. Maybe also the most important part, since these are the years that he learned the handicraft and formed his later writings. Paris at the time was full of writers, journalists and artists, many of them expats like himself; Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas, Sylvia Beach and her famous book shop Shakespeare and Company, and many others.
|A young Hemingway|
|The Hemingway family|
This was the time when he discovered his interest in bull fighting and fishing. He went several years to Pamplona for the bull run which fascinated him. He was a very good observer and could later in detail tell on the terrible bull fights and how it looked when the bull died. Their last visit in 1925, was more or less the beginning to the end to Hemingway's marriage and also to friendships with their friends. He put a lot of them, not Hadley, into his new novel that was to become his first success; The Sun Also Rises.
|Hadley, "I wished I had died|
before I ever loved anyone
Said by Hemingway in
the end of his life
The book is very well written and describes Paris life and makes it real. He also manages to describe
the relationship with Hadley and his other friends in Paris. These are the years where Hemingway fine tuned his writing, where he sent in short stories that came back. Often because they were to free in describing relationships. However, it paid out, and his future writing could be said to rest on the lessons he learned here.
An excellent read and necessary if you like Hemingway!