When Hadley Richardson spends a summer in Chicago with her friend, she is swept off her feet by Ernest Hemingway. He is intriguing, like no one she has met before- ruggedly outdoorsy, delicately damaged from WWI, and a dedicated writer. After their marriage, they leave for Paris to take on the literary scene. While Ernest begins the writing that will drive his career, Hadley puts everything into becoming the supportive wife and mother. Yet Paris in the 20's, full of the greatest American artists at the time and lots of alcohol, was never the place of traditional domestic bliss. In a place where wild affairs lace cafe culture, heartbreak is inevitable.
This book is lovely. It was very easy for me to latch on to Hadley's voice and story. Hadley and Ernest's romance is captivating from the very start. They are vivacious and very much in love. It's because of this that you find yourself rooting for a failing romance. You know from the start they are doomed, after all Hemingway had 4 wives, Hadley being the first. So the ending is no surprise, but that doesn't make it any less heartbreaking (I cried).
I really liked Hadley's voice in the story. It really came to life and captured her charm. She had the cadence of a woman from the 20's and its very obvious that the author put a lot of work into researching Hadley. McLain nails not the just the events and history with accuracy, but it's clear she spent a really long time getting to know the characters through reading their letters and other personal documents. At the same time, Hadley seems such a real and familiar character, it makes the 20's not seem so far away.
My only complaint, as I have a surprising amount of books about Paris, is that I never felt it really took me there. This is a book about people- Hadley and Ernest, as well as their literary friends. The author never went to Paris until after writing novel, so that might have had an effect on the focus on people rather than places.
Perfect If You Loved:: Basically anything by Ernest Hemingway (The Sun Also Rises especially), Midnight in Paris
Rating (out of 30):: 24