The Paris Wife By Paula McLain

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I picked up The Paris Wife on a whim at my local bookstore and I am so glad that I did. I have not read a book that took me on such an emotional roller coaster in a long time. And I mean that in the best way possible!

Now, I did not bawl and laugh out loud when I read this book, but my heart swelled and deflated more times than is probably good for my health. The way McLain pulls you into the story and gets you committed to Hadley, and then shows you her life molting into something completely different, you feel as though you are taking that painful journey yourself. You start advocating for Hemingway’s work and feel like you’re getting a glimpse of the lives of people who we mark as literary geniuses like Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The way McLain writes about Hadley you can tell how much she feels for her and after reading about how she wrote the book, you could see how committed she was.

Although many have criticized McLain for adding passages from Hemingway’s point of view, I believe the novel was better for it. It makes Hemingway seem less like an ass and you start to feel a bit for the way he is. The way his mind goes back and forth, battling the rights and wrongs, you hope that things might turn out differently for the writer than the tragic ending that we know occurred.

Part of me is surprised that this hasn’t been turned into a movie yet, although the Internet reveals that the movie is in development…as of November 2011. I think The Paris Wife has an excellent ability to become a wonderful film. But, I’m also completely okay with the pictures I have created in my head.

Favorite Book Quotes:

  • “Though I often looked for one, I finally had to admit that there could be no cure for Paris.”
  • “I don’t want to think and I don’t want to feel, either, unless it’s as simple as this beautiful boy’s knee inches from mine.”
  • “‘I like you, too,’ I said back, and it struck me how comfortable I felt with him, as if we were old friends or had already done this many times over, him handing me pages with his heart on his sleeve – he couldn’t pretend this work didn’t mean everything to him – me reading his words, quietly amazed by what he could do.”
  • “Was it love? It felt awful enough.”
  • “We were surrounded by people on the platform, but also entirely alone.”
  • “And everything was good and fine until it wasn’t.”
  • “You on the train and me here and everything emptier now you’re gone. Tell me are you real?”
  • “His words already meant so much – too much.”
  • “I wanted to look into a pair of impossibly clear brown eyes and know what that beautiful boy was thinking.”
  • “‘I’d like it if you could love me for a little while at least.'”
  • “He cleared his throat and looked up into the cold night sky, which was dizzy with stars.”
  • “How could I ever compete with a ghost – me, who knew so very little and nothing good about love?”
  • “‘Isn’t love a beautiful goddamn liar?'”
  • “‘There’s so much to lose.’ ‘There always is,’ she said.”
  • “‘After I was shot, when my head was still in pretty bad shape, a very wise Italian officer told me the only thing to really do for that kind of fear was to get married.’ ‘So your wife would take care of you? That’s an interesting way to think about marriage.’ ‘I actually took it to mean that if you could take care of her – you, thank is – I’d worry less about myself. But maybe it works both ways.'”
  • “But not everyone out in a storm wants to be saved.”
  • “We clung hard to each other, making vows we couldn’t keep and should never have spoken aloud.”
  • “We held on to each other and looked out at the sea. It was impossibly large and full of beauty and ganger in equal parts – and we wanted it all.”
  • “‘I’ve met the devil,’ Ernest said, finishing his glass of wine, ‘and he doesn’t give a damn about art.'”
  • “‘You’re horrible!’ ‘Yes, but you love me for it.'”
  • “It gave me a sharp kind of sadness to think that no matter how much I loved him and tried to put him back together again, he might stay broken forever.”
  • “Or asked the waiter to bring the absinthe and let it erase everything beautifully.”
  • “‘You suffer for his career. What do you get in the end?’ ‘The satisfaction of knowing he couldn’t do it without me.'”
  • “‘It’s good to be on fire, isn’t it?’ ‘I hope it goes on like this forever.'”
  • “‘Did something terrible happen between you?’ I asked. ‘No. That might have made some things easier, actually. I just didn’t think I loved him enough. I liked him. He would have been a wonderful provider, and a good father, too. I could see the whole thing, but never felt it.'”
  • “‘I’m trying to save my life.'”
  • “I was crying hard when I mailed the letter, but felt lighter for it.”
  • “There are some who said I should have fought harder or longer than I did for my marriage, but in the end fighting for a love that was already gone felt like trying to live in the ruins of a lost city.”
  • “‘You’re everywhere in the book,’ he said, and his voice dipped.”
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