The Paris Wife

I awoke this morning with a bit of a sore throat and have felt slightly off all day. I knew I wanted to get some nutritious foods into my belly around lunchtime and figured a smoothie packed with spinach and fruit would be a great way to sneak a lot of healthy fare into one cup.

The highlight of the smoothie?

smoothie 003

Peanut butter!

Rumor has it that today is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day, so it was only fitting. I’m now craving my peanut butter energy bites, so I may have to make a batch this evening.

My smoothie looked like death in a cup, but it tasted great!

In the blender:

  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 spoonful peanut butter
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1 cup 2 percent milk
  • 1 spoonful cocoa powder
  • 3 large handfuls fresh spinach

smoothie 006

smoothie 007

It was not so pretty, but I am hoping that all of the vitamins and nutrients from the spinach and fruit will help fight off whatever sickness seems to be trying to sneak up on me.

And now it’s time to discuss February’s book club selection, The Paris Wife!

The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife is a novel told from the perspective of Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife. Ernest and Hadley married in 1921 after a very short courtship and the couple quickly moved to Paris during the Jazz Age, enjoying their new marriage, many drinks and the company of well-known writers including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein.

the paris wife

As a reader, I already knew that Hadley and Ernest’s marriage ultimately fails because of history, but following their journey and trying to understand their complicated bond kept my interest, though slowly but surely I found myself growing more and more frustrated with Hadley. I liked her, but started to lose respect for her and disagreed with a lot of her personal decisions, particularly in the second half of the book. 

hadley hemingway

(Hadley Richardson: Source)

Hadley and Ernest seem very opposite, with Ernest portrayed as a vibrant, proud, egotistical and dynamic man and Hadley a calm, supportive, lost yet loving woman. They seem to adore each other but it’s clear that they have some very intense differences and ideals.

I really enjoyed how the book introduced me to writers I’ve admired for years as friends of the Hemingways. Reading about F. Scott Fitzgerald, the author of The Great Gatsby (my favorite “assigned reading” book from high school), was interesting and fun, as I haven’t done much research into his personal life. “Knowing” the secondary characters in the book really added to the story, especially when I started to become increasingly frustrated with Hadley.

I enjoyed reading about Ernest’s writing habits and his dedication to his writing, though his endearing passion for writing seemed to morph into a craft tainted with ego as the book progressed. I also found myself questioning Hadley, her way of life and her decisions with greater fervor during the second half of the book. I began to think she was meek and should stand her ground with greater intensity and not put up with Ernest’s games and his inevitable infidelity.

As a whole, I enjoyed the book and thought it was a quick, easy read. It also sparked my interest in the lives of the authors discussed in the book and I quickly found myself researching and reading more and more about the personal lives of the prominent writers discussed in The Paris Wife.

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Additional reviews of The Paris Wife may be found on the following blogs:

Discussion Questions

  • Did you find Hadley likeable? Why or why not?
  • Did you enjoy the random passages written from Ernest’s point of view? Did you find that they added to the story and helped you understand Ernest or changed your opinion of him in any way?
  • Do you feel like there was one moment in Hadley and Ernest’s relationship where things changed and became irreparable or was the demise of their relationship slow and steady?

Comments

  1. says

    Oof, I had to skip most of this post because this book is next on my list. Very much looking forward to it though! And I’m gad it sounds like you liked it.

    I’m marking this post so I can come back to read it afterwards :) .

    P.S. Love your smoothies, always.

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  2. says

    I also had to skip the post because I just started the book BUT your smoothie read deliciously and I am now craving one myself. PB is a godsend.

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  3. says

    I might be the only one who HATED this book. Hah. I guess that is a strong word, but my review kind of said the same things:
    -Hadley was too passive
    -Ernest is WAY too selfish. He drove me crazy! He put work before family and that is NEVER a good thing.
    -The writing was great and the characters interesting, but I don’t like the material. Selfish men should not get married. HAH.
    -I think the demise of their marriage started way before they got married…..when he was so passionate about life and somewhat scared, and Hadley was just supportive about everything without knowing exactly what she was getting into….I think her love for him was more a blind love, and that can be dangerous-and allow her to submit to him in ways that are not healthy

    -oh and that FINAL relationship with the 3 way thing, just made me disgusted that he would even ask for that from Hadley.

    I guess you can see I believe in love and marriage, but that it should be only for a husband and wife (!!)–and if the husband is so selfish he can’t put his family first, any marriage will fail.

    I am glad I married a man who loves me more than his work, that is all :)

    Wheww—sorry for the passionate review. Apparently I did not love Ernest’s life. WHoopsies. hah

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    • says

      i totally agree with you. i enjoyed the book in that i liked reading it, but i didn’t agree w/ ernest’s decisions (how did he get married FOUR times!?) and was mad at him for being such a douche bag to hadley and was really upset with hadley for not putting her foot down.

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    • Ashley says

      I totally agree with you! He completely disgusted me. That 3-way thing?! For real?!

      But she didn’t do herself any favors. She allowed his behavior to go on for far too long. That section where she was asleep and the other woman came in bed with them. Ugh!!!!

      It was an easy read but the whole book just left a sour taste in my mouth!

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  4. says

    I felt like I could relate a lot to Hadley in the beginning, but then (just as you said) she started to annoy me. I think more people in our time find her character annoying because women are so much more independent these days. You have to remember this was decades ago! I can see why some people (like Annette above) wouldn’t have like the book specifically because of Hadley’s character and the portrayal of marriage in this book.

    I liked the excerpts from Ernest’s POV. They gave the book a little more perspective. Though, it also made me think he was a bit nuts :)

    I think the denise of their relationship was slow and steady, but obviously the affair was the tipping point. I just could not believe it went on as long as it did with Hadley knowing everything. That part of the book was just so so weird. Pauline was kind of psycho in the way that she just went along like everything was great.

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    • says

      I agree with you about how times are different. This was almost a hundred years ago! Women are much more independent now.

      Pauline was pretty crazy. I think they both wanted to keep Ernest so they just went along with it to see who could outlast the other.

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  5. says

    I hope you start feeling better soon! I am dying to try one of your smoothie recipes but we don’t have a blender. I’m thinking of venturing out and buying a blender this weekend. I am dying to try smoothies and banana soft serve. :)

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  6. Rachel says

    Yeah, I didn’t really care for this book either.
    I kinda wanted to slap some sense into Hadley a couple of times.
    But at the same time, she was so sweet and forgiving and Ernest was such a jerk.
    I did like the passages from Ernest’s point of view, but they didn’t make me empathize with him.
    I honestly believe that if you can’t remain monogamous
    don’t get married.

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  7. says

    Thanks for including my link Julie! I found myself really frustrated with Hadley too, and I thought that the book was depressing in a lot of ways…I feel like people (men especially) seemed so jaded after WWI that they just threw morals out the window pretty much. I feel like all those artists that hung out together in the book just reinforced the idea to each other that cheating was ok, and they were just creatives who had to do what ever they felt like (which is BS in my opinion!) I think Hadley really did love Ernest and they did have a lot of passion, so it made me sad that their marriage fell apart. I feel like Hadley just felt like Ernest ways this creative genius who was going to do what he wanted regardless, and although she was really passive, I think she knew there was really nothing she could do to change his behavior or who he was as a person so she just had to accept it. It seems that she went on to find a happy stable life, whereas he struggled to find that same happiness and I think he obviously regretted some of his choices. I just finished reading the Sun Also Rises (Hemingway’s book that he’s writing during The Paris Wife) and it found it to be very depressing as well, just because everyone is like always drunk and just making poor choices and ends up unhappy…I guess the 1920′s were crazy times!

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      • says

        It was alright, but I found that it didn’t really keep my attention as much as The Paris Wife did…I’m going to post a full-review of it on my blog next week, but I wouldn’t say I loved it by any means…It was the first thing I’d read by Hemingway though, so I don’t want to write him off completely…I’d really like to read A Moveable Feast which is more about their time in Paris, whereas the Sun Also Rises is more about bullfighting which isn’t as interesting to me…hope that helps! :)

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        • Jill says

          If you’re looking for another Hemingway book to try I would recommend a Farewell to Arms… it’s set in WWI and was the basis for the Chris ODonell Sandra Bullock move “In Love and War”. All of Hemingway’s leading men are said to be somewhat auto-biographical in nature, which I find so interesting.

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        • S says

          I bought A Moveable Feast after I finished The Paris Wife – I’m interested to see Ernest’s perspective on that time in their life in comparison to Hadley’s point of view. I also got really lucky in that I had a trip to Paris planned right after I finished the book as well – which of course forced me to go visit some of their old haunts!

          Oh and sticking with the theme, I definitely recommend watching Woody Allen’s film ‘Midnight in Paris’ if you haven’t seen it and were intrigued by this time period in Paris!

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      • ML says

        A Sun also Rises is my favorite hemingway. I think it’s told so beautifully and simply, and although the story is sad, it’s totally engrossing. My other favorite is a Moveable Feast, which has lots of Hadley and lots of Scott, so you might like it! That one is autobiographical. I did not care for a Farewell to Arms at all, but that’s just me.

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  8. Karen says

    I started drinking smoothies after I discovered your blog– who knew you could pack so much spinach in there, and not ruin the taste? FYI- romaine lettuce does not work…don’t try it ;-)

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  9. Kaelin says

    I found Hadley likeable in that she stuck with her husband and devoted herself to doing what was best for him. But I did not like how she gave up on her own dreams to follow his. She also seemed to just give up and fade away when Earnest moved on.

    The random passages seemed to add a greater understanding of what Earnest was going through emotionally. Espeically with his PTSD (my unofficial diagnosis).

    I feel like when Hadley let what’ her name come along on so many of their trips without fighting for her marriage was the ultimate demise. She didn’t even stand her ground, and I hated the scene when she was on her knees begging Earnest to stay. I have no idea how I would behave in such a situation with my husband, but it hurt me to see her so desperate.

    I also thought it was strange how they left their baby all the time! Maybe it was a sign of the times, but I can’t imagine being away!

    BTW – your smoothie looks delicious!!!

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  10. Laurie says

    I completely agree! I was getting sick to my stomach supressing my anger at her because I wanted her to DO SOMETHING, not be so passive. But overall, I thought you hit the nail on the head. Definitely sparked my interesting that time period, and I saw that there is a book called Zelda by Nancy Milford (I may have made the name up) that might be a good follow up read.

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  11. Stacy says

    I have a rule that if I can’t get into a book in the first few pages, I move on. Which is what I did with this book. I just couldn’t get into it. ;/

    Although I did read A Thousand Splendid Suns, thanks to you! I saw it as an option for the Book Club and really enjoyed it.

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  12. Angela says

    Not to sound like a mom, but drink lots of orange juice! It always seems to work for me when I feel sickness coming on. I didn’t feel so great on Tuesday (scratchy throat, chills), so I bought some to drink. I felt fine the next day! Gotta love that vitamin C. :)

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  13. Jenna says

    I absolutely loved this book! Prior to reading, I already knew that Ernest was a difficult person…so I knew he would probably do things that I wouldn’t necessarily agree with. I did like Hadley, as I was reading, I couldn’t help but feel bad for her. I was very confused as to how she stayed around so long after she found out about Ernest and Pauline, but I think she was in shock. Not only in shock for the fact her friend was having an affair with her husband, but also because they didn’t have much remorse for their actions. Ernest kept bringing up the fact that Pauline’s Catholic guilt was bothering her, but I found this hard to believe when she hopped in bed next to Ernest and Hadley.

    I think Hadley wanted a simple life- a husband, a happy marriage, and children. But I think Ernest wanted the life of a writer in Pars in the 1920s; a life immersed in writing and affairs.

    I admire Hemingways writing so much, but despised the way he treated Hadley. I feel that throughout the book that Hadley wanted happiness and success for her husband and stayed true to who she was such, not following the latest trends in Paris fashion and feeling comfortable with her body image which, I think, are both admirable personality traits.

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  14. says

    I am trying to decide how I feel about the demise of Hadley and Ernest still.. Part of me thinks that te relationship was doomed before it began. one of the earliest posts from ernest’s point of view had to do with Kate, and I think that made me feel from right then that things wouldn’t work…

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  15. says

    I found Hadley likeable to an extent. I became so frustrated with her as things started falling apart with their marriage. I was especially annoyed when Pauline showed up during one of they’re vacations and acted as if nothing was wrong and they were still friends.

    The passages from Ernest’s point of view were just ok in my opinion. They were nice but I could have been fine without the. Looking back, the one were we find out he cheated on Hadley the first time really makes me dislike Ernest. Not because he cheated but that he never told her about it even after everything with Pauline came out.

    Thanks for posting my review link, Julie!! I can’t wait to see what this month’s book will be!

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  16. Amanda says

    I was really excited to read this book as Hemingway is my Dad’s favourite writer, and he was always bugging me to read Hemingway when I was studying abroad in Spain!

    I did enjoy this book, because it challenged society’s views and norms. It reminded me a lot of Fitzgerald, in the way it described the tragedy of the middle-upper class society in that era.

    I agree, Hadley came across like a pushover by today’s standards. But I think that had a lot to do with her and Hem’s mothers being so domineering, and so she saw her role as the ‘supporter’, to whatever lengths that may take her.

    I think even Hem struggled with the mistress situation, but he thought that was his prerogative and even his ‘role’ as a new age writer, to push boundaries and ‘have it all’.

    Great book pick, look forward to next months!

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  17. says

    Sorry to hear you’re not feeling well… you should try some cinnamon to help suck out some toxins! Plus it’s really good in shakes (double bonus)!

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  18. Sarah says

    The Sun Also Rises is my second favorite “required book”. If you liked the Great Gatsby you should try it. He writes in such a way that you can picture yourself in that time period. I really loved that Hadley had another life after Ernest.

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  19. Claire says

    I’ve totally been researching (aka browsing wikipedia) about the main and secondary characters since I finished the book! They definitely led interesting lives…not my style, but fascinating!
    And Hadley was one of the most frustrating “heroines” I’ve ever encountered. I just couldn’t get on board with her way of dealing with her life. Ugh. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one that felt this way. I am glad that she found happiness in the end.
    Overall, it’s a great book! I love it when a book makes me want to learn more about the characters/time period/lifestyle etc.

    What’s next????

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  20. Gail Angell says

    I have a question not pertaining to this book. In one of your blogs you talked about a friend named Ellen (?) that has a blog that talks about different books. Would you please let me know the name of the blog? Thanks
    P S I really enjoy reading your blog.

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  21. says

    Loved the book and the history. After reading it I immediately re-read A Moveable Feast. I tend to do that with books, once I start on a theme I will go with it for a while!

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  22. says

    Wow. I just finished the book last night and I could not stop crying. I was reading it out loud to my husband, and the thought of divorce was just so miserable.

    I did like Hadley, even though she really frustrated me with not standing her ground and putting up more of a fight. However, in some ways I could see why she did what she did in her situation.

    I really liked the parts into Ernest’s mind. I found myself wanting to know what he was thinking during many different parts of the story. I think it really helped to explain a lot of things to me.

    I didn’t see one spot where their relationship failed…it seemed very gradual.

    Such a sad story, but like you I enjoyed the look back into the personalities of historical figures.

    Can’t wait for next month. Hopefully I can be on time! :)

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  23. C Lill says

    I’m late to the party as I just finished the book today (103 holds at the library!!)…

    I enjoyed this book. I liked Hadley. I felt bad for her and of course, I can think up things she should have done differently, but she knew Ernest better than us. I feel like she knew she couldn’t change him or his beliefs or force love. His other marriages didn’t work either so it clearly wasn’t just her.

    It also makes me reflect on my own relationships. Hadley and Ernest once felt how I feel with my husband: so in love, nothing can stop this.. but love can end. You don’t plan for it and you don’t go for looking for it, but its important to take the time now and cherish what you have. Makes me want to take a romantic vacation. Reminds me to stop rushing through life and just have some time to be in the moment. With all the best intentions (and even without a psycho like Ernest) you never know how things will turn out. And I’m happy that Hadley did move on.

    I sound like a downer.. I do believe in love, marriage and spending the rest of my life with ONE person… but when I think about how my life is now compared to where I was 5 or 10 years ago, I know I can’t depend on things to be how I imagine. Invest in those you love, fight for what you believe in, but you can’t win every war and you can’t force someone to love you… And there is life after everything falls apart.

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  24. says

    It’s interesting that you enjoyed the role of the secondary characters. I liked the idea that Hemingway was surrounded by these people, but I felt none of them were really given their own personality in the book. I think some could have been relegated to name-only references, and other built up into more interesting parts of the story.

    My review: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

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