Cuyahoga River

Cuyahoga River
Cuyahoga River in the Valley

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hadley Hemingway, the Paris Wife

I need to write in my journal about local Cleveland writer Paula McLain's book The Paris Wife. The book was so exquisite, so full of passages I marked to be remembered, that I don't know where to start. The book captured the feel of the Lost Generation's Paris and realistically took us into Hadley's marriage to a determined young writer. What was most surprising was how much the book brought Hemingway's A Moveable Feast to me, and it's been many years since I read it. The spare writing and voice were haunting--I was reading a story by Hemingway written by a woman. When Hadley finally knew she'd lost Ernest to Pauline, "he climbed behind me and brought his arms around and tucked is knees against the backs of mine, hugging me as tightly as possible. 'There's a good cat,' he said to the back of my neck. 'Please sleep now.' I started to shake. 'Let's not do this. I can't.' 'Yes, you can. It's already done, my love.' And he rocked us back and forth as we both cried, and when I slept finally, I didn't give in to it as much as I was taken over by it, like a sickness or like death.'" The pain was shown, not told, and that's how the whole book went, even though it was told in third person from the Paris wife's point of view. We sensed, all the way through, that neither Ernest or Hemingway had any control over their destiny. They loved each other even as the marriage was ending. Exquisite.

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