It’s time for Florence’s book club again and I’m delighted that Rachel is back hosting this month. Rachel’s passion for literature is clear and without fail after reading her thoughtful reviews I’m left wanting to delve into the pages she has shared with us. I’m currently still reading The Language of Flowers (her last suggestion) after a rather late start and am completely gripped, so need no further encouragement to pick this one up next.
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
As we’re entering the summer months and our thoughts are perhaps turning to (hopeful) lazy summer days and maybe holidays I thought I’d review this book from the perspective of a sunny holiday read. I read this book in three days whilst lazing by the pool in Mallorca, finishing the final chapter as the plane descended to Gatwick.
It suits a holiday as they are constantly jetting off to another city. Americans living in Jazz Age Paris, experiencing bull fighting in Pamplona, the heat of Madrid, lazing with F. Scott Fitzgerald in Antibes and skiing in Austria. Nomads who feel they can go anywhere, do anything, follow the story, create the story and then think about the human implications later. Absolutely broke but somehow living a glamorous lifestyle due to the generosity of their friends.
The short chapters are perfect for ‘I’ll just finish this chapter then I’ll join you for a swim, a drink, a reapplication of sun cream.’ Most importantly though I found it a really good read and one where I enjoyed having the time to read and immerse myself in without much else to think about.
The Paris Wife is written from the perspective of Ernest Hemmingway’s wife, Hadley Richardson, and I really liked her. I found myself really wanting to know what happened next to their lives and I am now tempted to read Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, his account of this time in his life.
If you’re not interested in the Hemmingway’s nor their group of famous friend it doesn’t matter. It’s a good story about a small town American woman falling in love, moving to Europe, being with her love as he strives to become an acknowledged writer, how her views of being a wife fit with their circle of friends, and more importantly, her belief systems. It’s unusual as right from the first page you know that this love isn’t going to last, that there will be an affair but, with whom and how they muddle through. How Hadley goes about making sense of what’s happening and trying to work out how to live her life is the story.
Here is my favourite passage from the book which sums up the way they lived their life and how a good holiday can feel.
“It was our favourite part of the day, this in-between time, and it always held and seemed to last longer than it should – a magic and lavender space unpinned from the hours around it, between worlds.”
Have we tempted you to read The Paris Wife this summer?