a lost generation

Amazon’s book description (sorry if you wrote it, there was no name attached to the descript.) for The Paris Wife reads as follows,

“A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-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…”

The NYTimes review was a little rougher.

I thought this was a good synopsis, so why reinvent the wheel? I will speak instead to my feelings of the book which are as follows: I enjoyed it; it was interesting enough to move along, but left me feeling the same sadness and sullenness as I do when I read Hemingway’s novels (this is not to say that I don’t enjoy them, it’s just that I am glad when the book is over). Reading Hemingway is like a relationship: in the beginning there is newness and possibilities, then the inevitable let-downs and fights, make-up sex, eventual ponderings of how best to proceed: how does this relationship move forward? Does this relationship move forward? 

Hadley (Richardson) and Ernest Hemingway
As the NYTimes review mentioned it isn't clear how much of this fiction was based on fact, but that didn't bother me so much as Hadley's character; was Hadley really so obtuse as to be oblivious to Hemingway's changing character and eventual philandering? Or was she just a product of her time period? Her willing to live a sort of "lost generation" bohemian life of sorts in Europe would lead one to believe she wasn't a product of her time...so what then? Did she choose to believe that love would make all right in the end? I won't say more, lest those reading this don't know the outcome of Hemingway's marriage to Hadley...

It was an interesting read, which I paired with Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, bouncing back and forth between the two (this doubled my morose mood for some weeks!) It was interesting to hear both sides of the story, if you will, (though The Paris Wife is fiction,  A Moveable Feast reads like Hemingways journal from this same time period might, published posthumously by his family.)  While I enjoyed The Paris Wife, I found myself very much disliking A Moveable Feast; the book felt like a rambly mess of ideas, as most journals do, something that had Hemingway lived to see its publish, I'm sure would have been more cleaned up.


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