Just finished the Parish Wife, which I liked a great deal. Paula McClain, the book’s author, took on a tricky subject. To anyone familiar with the Hemingway myth, Hadley has always been the hero. Supposedly sweet, kind, supportive, she was too good, in a sense, for Hemingway. With his success and increasing notoriety, and his sweeping ambition, he drifted away from what was essential. Nevertheless, he produced The Sun Also Rises while living with Hadley, and for my money it’s his best work.
I was completely drawn into this moving account. I recommend it to anyone, but especially to people interested in the time period. And I am tired of hearing people run down Hemingway. He was a jackass and a lout in all sorts of ways — aren’t we all? — but he was a gifted artist who worked hard and left something behind. He changed the course of American letters, and that’s pretty good for a high school grad who had an itch to write. The Paris Wife lends insight into the whole marriage, and you come away understanding things aren’t easy, and people do the best they can.