(Current fiction and quality fiction of the past.)
It was the Library Journal that wrote, “Women of all ages and situations will sympathize as they follow this seemingly charmed union to its inevitable demise . . . Colorful details of the expat life in Jazz Age Paris, combined with the evocative story of the Hemingways’ romance, result in a compelling story that will undoubtedly establish McLain as a writer of substance — highly recommended for all readers of popular fiction.”
Examiner figures the Library Journal knew its readers fairly well. At last check with the Albuquerque library system there were almost 90 folks in line for the next copy of “The Paris Wife” (Ballantine Books) and there are 21 copies of the novel in the system. The branches at Juan Tabo and Cherry Hills have the most copies, eight and seven respectively. Demand at local bookstores has been good and, of course, “The Paris Wife” is available from all online booksellers.
McLain lives in Cleveland, Ohio, where the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper had said of her first novel, “A Ticket to Ride” that “Paula McLain has put a poet’s ear to the urgency of adolescence . . . a strong throb of a first novel.” That’s not surprising, given her early history. Paula McLain was born in Fresno, Calif., in 1965. After being abandoned by both parents, she and her two sisters became wards of the California Court System, moving in and out of foster homes for the next 14 years. That history reminds Examiner of “The Language of Flowers” (Examiner). Eventually, she discovered she could write and wanted to write. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan in 1996, and since then has been a resident at the Yaddo artists’ community and the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the author of two collections of poetry, and a much-praised memoir called “Like Family.”
The novel is set during a remarkable time, the same period as Ernest Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast” and “The Sun Also Rises.” According to the publisher’s notices, Paula McLain’s “The Paris Wife” brilliantly captures the voice and heart of Hadley Hemingway as she struggles with her roles as a woman—wife, lover, muse, friend, and mother—and tries to find her place in the intoxicating and tumultuous world of Paris in the twenties.
“I’m hoping my novel will work to illuminate not just the facts of Ernest and Hadley’s years in Paris,” McLain has said, “but the essence of that time and of their profound connection by weaving both the fully imagined and undeniably real.”
The Seattle Times put it this way: “This absorbing, illuminating book gives us an intimate view of a sympathetic and perceptive woman, the striving writer she married, the glittering and wounding Paris circle they were part of, and the challenges of trying to preserve love and domesticity in the face of rising celebrity and ruthless ambition.”
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