The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife

A Novel

Book - 2012
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a shy twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness when she meets Ernest Hemingway and is captivated by his energy, intensity and burning ambition to write. After a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for France. But glamorous Jazz Age Paris, full of artists and writers, fuelled by alcohol and gossip, is no place for family life and fidelity. Ernest and Hadleý™s marriage begins to founder, and the birth of a beloved son serves only to drive them further apart. Then, at last, Ernest́™s ferocious literary endeavours begin to bring him recognition - not least from a woman intent on making him her own...
Publisher: New York, New York : Ballantine Books Trade Paperbacks, 2012.
Edition: Ballantine Books trade paperback edition.
Copyright Date: ℗♭2011
ISBN: 9780345545176
Characteristics: x, 335 pages ; 21 cm


From Library Staff

In Chicago in 1920, 28-year-old Hadley Richardson meets Ernest Hemingway. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris and become the golden couple in a lively group of expatriates, including Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and Gerald and Sara M... Read More »

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
JCLJenV Apr 07, 2021

A wonderful novel about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley during their years spent in Paris. Now I need to go read 'The Sun Also Rises'.

Jan 21, 2021

Read 2015

Dec 31, 2019

Loved this book. I felt I was experiencing all the fun and games and then all the disappointments. I highly recommend for all those Francophile s like me out there!!!

Nov 04, 2019

She achieved a living- in- the- soul -of- Hadley- Richardson. Ernest, with all his flaws and blindnesses of character is big as life, also. She also says things universal about relations between women and men. The wife who replaced her, Pauline, makes her entrance into the pages, so subtly it is easy to miss. But Hadley, as imagined by Ms. Mcclain, perceives her truly, as well as understanding why she was unable to compete with such a person as Pfeiffer./ "Near Thanksgiving 1922, the STAR sent Ernest to cover a peace conference in Lausanne that would decide the territorial dispute between Greece and Turkey, the thing that had started the terrible business at Smyrna and had generally kept them killing each other for the better part of three years." "In the alleyways behind the marketplace, fruit and meat rotted in crates. Rats crawled; pigeons crowded and pecked each other savagely, trailing feathers and lice."

May 15, 2019

Wow-felt like I was right there with the couple wherever their destinations were-and there were many. I really liked & admired Hadley as a person.

Feb 24, 2019

Good if you like historical fiction

Jan 18, 2019

...meh... kinda boring and tedious unless maybe one is a huge Hemingway fan...of his life, that is. I think I dozed off somewhere in Paris in a street cafe...

Jul 16, 2018

Paula McLain does an incredible job bringing to life Paris of the 1920s and the Lost Generation. McLain shines a light into Hadley and Ernest Hemmingway’s unique private world. Their relationship, and life in Paris was filled with famous expats and artists, poverty, loneliness, love, ambition, and adventure. Their loyalty, youth, and naivety are heartbreaking as their simple lives become increasingly complex and tumultuous. Hadley’s love of everything that makes Ernest who he is, is exactly what makes this story so wonderfully tragic. I highly recommend this read, as it is insightful, enriching, and emotional.

Apr 19, 2018

Hadley and Ernest Hemingway come alive in this novel - young and in love and in Paris. Beautifully written this novel captures the times of Paris back then and the main characters' lives in the City of Light. Highly recommend.

Nov 06, 2017

The author’s rich storytelling successfully brings out the emotional complexity of Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage, told from the perspective of his wife, Hadley. She sympathetically and honestly portrays both characters in a way that helps us understand why it was a challenge to have a solid marriage, and paints a vivid picture of those heady, chaotic times in Paris 1920s with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and Alice B.Toklas, Ezra Pound and his harem, and others with similar drunken, rebellious-artist attitudes of the day.

At times I wanted to judge Hadley as a doormat from my 21st century perspective, for her chosen role as supporter of Ernest’s self-absorbed writing career and the denial of her own sense of self (even when *the mistress* entered the scene). But I think the reader needs to see this in the context of their trying-to-be-outrageous circle of friends in 1920s Paris, full of love triangles.

I was reminded how some things don’t change, how many people still keep up appearances pretending how perfectly good life is regardless of life’s messes. McLain uses a very apt metaphor tied in with the bike riding activity of Hadley, Ernest and his lover, Pauline (I’ve condensed it): "Three bicycles stood on their stands. If you looked at them one way they looked very solid, like sculpture with afternoon light glinting off the chrome handlebars. If you looked another way, you could see how thin each kickstand was under the weight of the heavy frame, and how they were poised to fall like dominoes or skeletons of elephants or like love itself."

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability
michlmac Feb 07, 2012

michlmac thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


Add a Quote
ArapahoeMaryA Aug 10, 2020

It was our favorite part of the day, this in-between time, and it always seemed to last longer than it should--a magic and lavender space unpinned from the hours around it, between worlds.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at ALCO

To Top