book : Paula McLain | The Paris Wife
song : Yann Tiersen & Carla Bruni | Le Parapluie
It has come to my attention that I haven’t done any writing about Ernest Hemingway—If you’re wondering, this book’s also not written by him. The Paris Wife tells the story of Hadley Richardson, Hemingway’s first companion throughout his Paris years. They were blissfully in love—until he went away with her best friend.
Everybody knows Hemingway’s larger-than-life personality through his gifted writing. Oftentimes his macho bull-fighter exterior eclipse the vulnerable fillings inside that is him, in love. His first object of affection was Hadley, a cracker-barrel but as pretty as a picture. She was 8 years his senior who poured her heart catering Hemingway’s years as a poor faceless writer in Paris. Their yarn of liaison and marriage is turned into a fictive tale by Paula McLain. Instead of writing a biography about Hadley, she wanted to sink deeper. Visualizing Hadley in Paris, what went in her mind as she tromp among the locks of young artists and highbrows there. She was 28 when caught by the eyes of Hemingway, 20. A talented musician that she was, taking care of her sick mother consumed her 20s. When the striking, easy-on-the-eye Hemingway filled her in about his plan on moving to Paris to be a full-time writer, Hadley took that as a proposition, and said yes. I saw Paris in 1920s through her eyes and self-made voice telling it like it was. I imagined myself sipping champagne with Fitzgerald, Stein and Zelda. I put myself in her shoes, witnessed him revamping into a legendary artist. While his youth was gorged with lack of conviction, she was his rock. Yet as his artistic capacity bloomed, she’ll later on be doomed as the starter wife—an undesirable linchpin. Hadley was the voice of warmth as any abhorrent-but-brilliant virtuoso would have.
Along the way, Hadley lost a satchel containing years of Hemingway’s work. And from that moment on, their marriage turned into a series of cataclysm. He was as tight-knit as bread and butter with his writing, while she’s coping with her role as homemaker and mother to “Bumby”. And as a crumbling marriage would function, a love affair steps in. He had an affair with a classy struggling journalist named Pauline Pfeiffer who’s in due course became his second wife. She held her own composure knowing that her feeling was mutual and in the same time being Hadley’s best friend. I venture that her letters to Hemingway was an unveil chain of lover’s secrecy and those addressed to Hadley might be penetrating eerie praise and consolation. One should easily guess how the story then went. The Hadley and Ernest of the book aren’t solely romantic, McLain paints them as individual beings nicknamed each other Tatie. This novel is a colorful story to be intimate with Hemingway and I noticed something familiar while reading this book.
Hadley maybe the doomed starter wife, but it’s indisputable that she has groped Hemingway’s heart until the end of his life. Later married to the 4th wife, one can observe that he spent the last years of his existence formulating his last book titled “A Movable Feast” with pigments of a puzzling lady character—which apparently was Hadley, his first love. And to quote him:
“I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her..”
…just before he took his own life.