Sunday, June 7, 2015

Book Review - The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Overall, this novel was a poignant and breezy read. I guess with biographical historical novels, one would usually feel that the author, in trying to fill in the blanks of a factual account with creative bits, would tend to assume a sympathetic stance in regards to the protagonist (otherwise why write the story at all). Whether that sympathy is so strong that it lends a revisionist tone or whether it is balanced by reserve is a matter of the author's judgment call.

The main storyline is riveting as it unfolds the menage a trois situation in Hemingway's first marriage with Hadley Richardson, with Pauline Pfiffer being the mistress. The writing style is silky smooth. The author's sympathy for Hadley Richardson is quite obvious throughout and her writing easily evokes readers' compassion for her heroine, but she doesn't let it saturate her story. She clearly also tries to be understanding towards Hemingway. Perhaps, by being reserved on the seducer role of Pfiffer's, she has managed to let Richardson gain even more commiseration.

Apart from the main story, the background stories about the fast lives that celebrity writers led in Paris and other parts of Europe certainly make for entertaining read.

No comments: