A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, Paula McLain’s novel The Paris Wife (A Ballantine Books Hardcover; Feb. 22) captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people — Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley.
Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet 28-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness — until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever.
Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group — the fabled “Lost Generation” — that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.
Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises.
Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold on to her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage — a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything for which they’ve fought so hard.
Paula McLain received an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan and has been awarded fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the author of two collections of poetry as well as a memoir, Like Family: Growing Up in Other People’s Houses, and a first novel, A Ticket to Ride. She lives with her family in Cleveland.
McLain will be speaking and signing her new book on Mar. 18, 8 p.m., at Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave. in Coral Gables.