The Paris Wife

Hadley-and-Ernest-Hemingw-007After a long vacation and time away, I am back.  One of the books I read while on a relaxing dreamy vacation in Greece was The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.

This fictional story of Ernest Hemmingway and his first wife Hadley Richardson is a wonderful read.  It is a fascinating portrait of a Power of Love character (Hadley) and a Power of Will character (Hemmingway) living and loving in Paris of the 1920’s.

Hadley supports the soon-to-be great man with all the patience, determination and tenacity of a true Power of Love character.  But she’s not a victim or a martyr.  The gift he gives her is strength, confidence and the ability to live without him when their marriage is done.

When Hadley and Hemmingway meet in Chicago.  Hadley is visiting a long-time school friend.  She is a shy spinster type, living in her married sister’s house after caring for their long-ailing mother.  She is resigned to a quiet existence at the mercy of family obligations.

After her trip to Chicago, Hadley returns home to Saint Louis convinced that Hemmingway is “a beautiful boy” but isn’t all that interested in her.  She is surprised and delighted to get a letter from him after only a few days time.

The two fall in love via long letters (sometimes two or three a day).  They marry and go off to Paris where she encourages, helps and becomes the emotional pillar supporting his work.  Hadley has a life with Hemmingway filled with interesting people, places and parties.  Her voice (and influence) is clear, steady and practical in a world filled with posing and posturing and the brittle gaiety of post World War I Paris.

Hemmingway is the lusty, larger than life Power of Will character who sweeps Hadley off her feet and off to Europe.  He’s a man’s man, fascinated with boxing and bull fighting.  He is immensely talented, hard drinking and hard-working.  He can also be belligerent and a bit of a bully (eventually alienating  many of his early mentors and supporters).  Hadley gives him the loving forgiving nurturing that was so crucial to his early uncertain years as a writer.

This is a wonderful portrait of the dynamics between two very clearly drawn Character Types.  They are absolutely true to type but wonderfully unique as individuals.

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