Paula McLain - Paris Wife (23)

I really loved One Night in Winter and wanted to stay in that era. There were several Hemingway references, so I gave The Paris Wife a try. What did I learn? Well, Ernest Hemingway was a jerk, apparently. Life in the arts in pre WWII Europe was pretty exciting - life in that time, in general, sans social media and internet and white noise makes for a fascinating read. 

But as a book, I think I missed whatever it was that inspired so many people to give it rave reviews. Maybe something happened in the audiobook translation that changed the tone. But it was kind of a boring read. And by the end, with the nicknames, I just wanted to grab them all by the ears and make them stop. Cutesy nicknames are not a substitute for actual affection. I scoured Goodreads reviews to see if there’s something I missed, but they are firmly divided into two camps: greatest book ever vs. boring book about boring person who happened to know some famous people for a while. I fall into the second camp.

Kudos to the author for the research and the lovely prose. But I just didn’t care a whit about the characters or see any real story arc - it wouldn’t have been that hard to amp up Hemingway’s career aspirations (which he obviously had) and amp up her growing domestic aspirations (which she also had) until there was an inevitable clash. Instead, the grocery offerings at the market are treated with the same level of detail and care as that time her husband’s mistress crawled into bed with them in the middle of the night and the time they stopped talking to their best friends because of an un-described “falling out”. All trees, no forest.

What’s Next? 

Something truly nonfiction.