book review - the paris wife by Paula McLain

If you've been into any large bookstore lately you'll have no doubt seen The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.  It's been a bestseller for a while now, which is exactly why I bought it; I'm a sucker for books on the bestseller list.  Plus a story that included the 1920s, Paris, and Hemmingway?  I was totally sold.

I have to say, however, that I didn't love this book.  I found the beginning and ending to be very entertaining, but the middle seemed to kind of drag on.  Even a couple others who also read it said the same thing.  The two things that I thought the book did well, however, were the honest discussions on marriage, and the character development.  

This book takes you deep inside Hemmingway's first marriage.  I loved being a fly on the wall the marriage's ups and downs.  The main character (Hadley) led you through her happiness, her doubt, and her questions about marriage; it made me feel as if I were discussing the different aspects of marriage with one of my good friends, rather than reading a book.  It was so honest and it was refreshing to be reminded that all relationships have their ebbs and flows.

The characters in this book were so interesting that I couldn't help thinking about them long after I had stopped reading.  I didn't really know much about Hemmingway before reading this book, and I came away with a deeper understanding of what a truly troubled, yet brilliant, artist he was.  Hadley was terrific, she was honest, loyal, and very down to Earth.  Their friends (many of them historical figures like F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein) were entertaining, vengeful, and very fun to read about.

In the end, I was happy that I bought this book.  Even despite the middle dragging on a little bit, I found it entertaining enough to keep me reading.  I've never hesitated to stop reading a book if I lost interest, so the fact that I actually kept reading and finished it says a lot.

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