|Published: Feb 2011|
I can't get enough Hadley and Hemingway since I finished The Paris Wife. This fictionalized account of their 1920s romance and marriage was surprisingly captivating. Now, I'm desperate to separate fact from fiction.
Hadley Richardson was the first of Hemingway's four wives. She was an innocent girl from the Midwest, eight years his senior. Reluctant to fall in love with a younger man, Hadley eventually gave in to Hemingway's charm and youthful ambition. The couple moved to Paris shortly after getting married. In Paris, they fraternized with the likes of Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. This period of their relationship was alive, filled with writing, friendship, and exuberant drinking. Adventures ensued, lines were crossed, and books were written.
The Paris Wife felt authentic. McClain did extensive research that included reading and rereading multiple biographies, memoirs, letters, novels, and stories written by and about Hadley and Hemingway. McClain's writing was simple yet intriguing, which is exactly how I felt about Hadley. Hadley was never the biggest personality in the room, especially among Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Duff Twysden, and Pauline Pfeiffer. But, in retrospect she might have been the best woman in the room. Even Hemingway might have agreed with that when it was all said and done.