Saturday, October 26, 2013

Paris Without End by Gioia Diliberto

Paris Without End gives a factual account of the life of Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife. It follows them through their courtship in Chicago and St. Louis, and travels with them to Paris, where Hemingway and others like Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald made up the “Lost Generation.” With Hadley as the focus, the book follows her through her divorce, remarriage, and the remainder of her life with and without Ernest.

I really enjoyed Paris Without End - for a non-fiction book, it read like the best kind of fiction. The details are well researched, and the emotion of Hadley and Ernest is palpable throughout. I think the worst part about it was knowing how it ends - that she was only the first of four wives.

Diliberto does a wonderful job of painting not only a multifaceted view of Hadley, but also of Hemingway himself. It can be easy to villianize him because of the details of the end of their marriage, but the book does a really good job of showing that they were both real people; passionately in love with each other, but also human and susceptible to real situations and emotions. Their obvious affection for one another didn't cure all, and I think that's important to note. I also found it very interesting how their relationship (and later, the disintegration thereof) affected Hemingway's fiction and his career in general.

I found this a really easy but also fully engaging read. Though parts meandered a bit, the pacing was good and the details were both interesting and honest. If you've read The Paris Wife or are just curious about Hadley (and Hemingway for that matter), I highly recommend this book.

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