Review: The Paris Wife
by Paula McLain
Celebrity is a curious thing. Despite what even the most grounded celebrity says, fame changes people.
In his early days, Ernest Hemingway was like any other struggling writer. He had talent, spirit, and enthusiasm, but he needed a lucky break. Paula McLain takes on the story of Hemingway as he teetered on the edge between anonymity and notoriety, and as he embarked on his first marriage to Hadley Richardson. A woman eight years older than Hemingway, Hadley offers both inspiration and solace to the struggling journalist.
After their wedding, Hemingway and Hadley begin the springtime of their life together in Paris, where tout le monde seems to be drawn in the early 1920s. They are swept up in a Jazz Age whirl with luminaries like F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein. There was little money, but a lot of alcohol and parties.
McLain's book focuses on Hadley's side of the story, as she struggles to keep up with the many moods of Hemingway. He is drawn to adventure, to grabbing life's brass ring, and to never slowing down. But Hadley has to deal with the realities of living, of loneliness, of motherhood, and of being a wife.
Hemingway moves among the luminaries of Paris, but when he returns home to Hadley it's also a thump back down to reality, and that's not necessarily where he yearns to be. As Hemingway begins to find success with his writing, Hadley faces the failure of their marriage.
This is a bittersweet book that focuses on the changing relationship between an ordinary husband and wife when the husband develops an extraordinary talent. A page-turner to the very end – even when you know what's coming.
Recipe: Sweet and Sour Tarts
Hadley Richardson finds life with Hemingway to be both sweet and sour, so I thought these lemon curd tarts would be the perfect accompaniment to The Paris Wife.
Prepared tart shells, any size
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 Tablespoon cold water
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons grated lemon peel
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tablespoons butter
Prepare tart shells as instructed on the package. You can use mini-tarts or normal-sized tart shells. Cool shells while continuing with recipe. Put gelatin in small saucepan. Sprinkle with the cold water. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and sugar together until thick. Stir into the gelatin mixture. Heat to just boiling over low heat, stirring constantly for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon peel, lemon juice, and butter. Pour lemon mixture into shells. Refrigerate for one hour and then serve.