Two sentences in and I am hooked. Hopelessly, madly, deeply hooked in this book. Calling it “a book” feels like calling The Thinker a statue, they are both so much more than that. They are true art. As I keep reading, I find myself both jealous and inspired. I want to write like Paul McLain. I want to know how it feels to write like she does. But at the same time, I know that I never will. And that is bittersweet.
Prologue “…full of an emptiness they could never dislodge”. I read this line over and over, and each time it sent a shiver up my spine. And that was just the prologue! Throughout the book, the writing stayed consistently, oh what is the word, magnificent. This is one book I was saddened to see end, even though the ending itself was well done.
The story is told from the point of view, mostly of, of Hadley, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife. The book details their lives together from the moment they meet, to the moment they leave each other forever. While that span of time was not an eternity, there is still so much to the tale it is incredible that Ms. McClain was able to fit it into one book without having the reader feel rushed.
While the book is based on fact, it is a work of fiction. The dialogue and inner monologues are obviously fictional creations, but many of the events and places are real. It is a heady mix for a history and literature lover! I must say, even though I am not a fan of Hemingway’s writing, I am temped to go back and read it now!
So much of the book is told matter of fact. You don’t feel for Hadley but instead end up understanding her. It is told like a story recounted years later, where you know emotions were running rampant but they are far enough removed to be analyzed and not felt. The a myth or legend where the point is for you to learn the lesson the characters learned the hard way.
The story of Hadley and Ernest was at once a grand love story and a cautionary tale. For while there were always undercurrents of despair, loneliness, and discontent for a shining moment they were truly happy. Are all these things not like what you find in a parable?
With the sweet, comes the sour. Love and bittersweet stories,