Tag Archive: paris

Reading Challenge – The Paris Wife

Once again I picked up the challenge to read a chick lit book for the reading challenge set by Samantha at Chicklitplus. This month’s book was a bit more work as I went for historical fiction that focused on the relationship between Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley. It is the second novel by Paula McLain called The Paris Wife.


Here is the description from Better World Books:

In Chicago in 1920, Hadley Richardson, a quiet 28-year-old, meets Ernest Hemingway. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris and become the golden couple in a lively group of expats, including Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and Gerald and Sara Murphy. But the hard-drinking and fast-living cafe life doesn’t celebrate traditional notions of family and monogamy. As Hadley struggles with self-doubt and jealousy and Ernest wrestles with his burgeoning writing career, they must confront a deception that could prove the undoing of one of the greatest romances in history.

Image from Better World Books.com

So we get to see inside the life of Hemingway and his first wife who had a few inheritances that provided for their life overseas. This allowed Hemingway to work without having to earn a living most of the time. He did work for a few publications but his temperament was not made for working in an office and playing politics.

What we see is Hadley’s viewpoint as a woman who believed that her love had real talent that needed to be worked at and tempered. As they move to Paris and begin to meet other writers, Ernest shares some of his conversation with Hadley about literature. That part is fascinating for me to see how Gertrude Stein influenced him.

What is heart-breaking is to see how Hemingway did not value Hadley as the story moves on. I could not tell if he actually felt guilt for the affairs, the crushes, the heartbreak he would cause Hadley. Then again, I am not sure he thought about much else than his own needs and wants.

Hadley describes how the man changes over the years that they are in Paris, how he goes from being neat and clean-shaven to a man proud to be in his shabby jacket and long hair. Perhaps by this time he felt like a real ex-patriot and therefore had to dress/look the part.  she is not comfortable with these changes but realizes that he is exploring a new persona as he develops his talent and grows in success.

Photo by Bob Perkoski, Image from Freshwatercleveland.com

This book is supposed to be about Hadley, her thoughts and feelings during her time as ‘the Paris wife.’ But what I found it to be was more about what Hadley thought about Ernest, how he did everything, how he saw things, how he was the center of her world. And that includes life after Bumbly was born.

But I have to keep reminding myself in what era this book was written. Women were not expected to have a ‘life’ outside of marriage. Considering the years Hadley spent being depressed after the death of a favorite sister and the suicide of her father followed by taking care of a sick mother, I am surprised she had any will left at all.

Strangely enough, once she meets Ernest and they fall in love, Hadley has the will the drive to live differently than what would have been expected of her by her family.

Paula McLain has written a book that captures the time period, the players, the emotions of the time. We can hear the music, taste the alcohol, and see the running of the bulls. In the beginning, we see how these two crazy kids fall for each other as they have both come from families with difficult histories.

While slow at times, I found the book to be very interesting as I entered a world I had studied but never quite understood while I was in school. The wildness of the era, the constant drinking, the need to be ‘bohemian,’ the talent that constantly flowed like a springtime mountain stream.

To be honest, I would read this book again. That is the highest compliment I can give it.

Some books I don’t care if I ever see again after the initial reading. This one makes me want to explore it again while listening to music from that era. Afterwards, I will find Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris just so I can look for the references I missed the first time.

Who wants to join me for a trip back to 1920s Paris?

Editor’s Note: While researching more about Hemingway and Hadley, I also read boards on “Hemingway and Gellhorn” which is a movie about his third marriage to the legendary war correspondent.  One poster stated that all of Hemingway’s wives latched onto to him for his fame and money. However, in the case of Hadley, it was Hemingway who latched on to her. She had some money and an emotional stability to help settle him while he was beginning his craft. She believed in his talent before he was published as a novelist or knew Stein, Ezra Pound or even Sherwood Anderson. 

I realize that Hemingway is a hero to many but he was a pill to live with – as we see in this novel and other biographical anecdotes. Maybe the later wives ‘latched on’ to him but it did not take much persuading either. 

You would think that the Answer Lady gets bored with answering questions. There are times we would rather ask the questions.  But that is not the case at all.  Today we are in answer mode as we get ready to be serious and a little dreamy.

Q. How do I attract hummingbirds to my feeder?

Hanging Basket

A. The best way is to make sure your hummingbird feeder always has fresh sugar water solution in it. But you may also have to have an extra attractant. Hang a basket of petunias nearby in colors of red and purple if possible. The hummers love these colors and the scent of the petunias.

The Answer Lady knows because her youngest watches the bird feeder area and calls out whenever he sees a hummingbird.

This picture is of a Baby Trend Infant Car Seat but not the exact one used by the Roycrofts, Picture from babytrend.com.

Q. Where can you find the expiration date on a baby car seat?

A. Now this is a good question as until a few years ago I never knew baby seats had expiration dates.  Most baby seats are expected to last about six years from date of manufacture. The reason is plastic can degrade, getting hard over the years and easier to bust up in a crash. Seat belts can stretch out as well.

Your best bet is to look on the back of a seat. Keep looking until you find it. Sometimes when you find a great deal on last year’s seat is not a big deal if you are buying a seat for a newborn. The problem comes when you are hoping the seat lasts for a few years or for a few kids. So check the date. And should you ever be in a car accident, replace the seat.

Map of Paris from Bois de Boulonge Campground, picture from mobilehome-paris.com.

Q. Is there a place to tent camp near Paris?

A. The real question here should be can you get tent spikes through security at the airport. However, that was not asked. Should you want to camp near Paris there is a park that allows tent camping but also has rental cabins near the Champs Elysées. Call ahead to get your reservation in ahead of time, especially during those busy tourist months. Find the website for Bois de Boulonge Campground at http://www.mobilhome-paris.com.

I do a lot of writing for an online group. I try to work on a variety of story topics to keep my researching skills up to pare. Along the way I may find out information for a story that I cannot use which is a bummer because I find some interesting stuff. So today I thought I would share some of that ‘stuff.’

Parlez-vous français?

Map of Paris from Bois de Boulonge Campground, picture from mobilehome-paris.com.

Did you know you can actually camp out in Paris, France? It is possible for you to go to Bois de Boulogne Campground where there is tent, mobile home and camper sites. How cool is that? Plus, it is near the Champs Elysées so getting to central Paris is not difficult. It is advised to make your reservations ahead of time, especially during the summer month. The mobile homes on site are available year-round.

The website has flags on the left side to switch languages. Click on the British flag to get English or the French flag to practice your language skills. Find the website for Bois de Boulonge Campground at http://www.mobilhome-paris.com. The Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau can be visited at http://en.parisinfo.com.

Route 66

Route 66 is the historic highway that goes from Chicago to California. One of

Route 66 Mural, picture courtesy of Pontiac Tourism Bureau

the earlier stops is in Pontiac, Illinois. This town has a pretty cool collection of murals throughout the town. I was sent this picture but was unable to use it with the story.

Pontiac has a variety of festivals throughout the year including the Threshermen’s Reunion over Labor Day weekend. Later in September they have a blue grass festival that sound very interesting. Anyway, here is a picture of one of the murals which I find very cool. I would like to give thanks to the Pontiac Tourism Bureau for allowing me to use it.

Evergreen Trees

Pine Tree, picture by Serious Fun

This one is more wonky than cool. But I became enamored with the idea that pine needles can stay on the tree for up to 30 years. Most do a 2-4 year run. The reason why has everything to do with the cuticle of the needle which protects the inside cells from the cold. Plus the spores of the bottom of the leaf are constantly collecting the energy the tree needs.

So that means the cells inside the pine needle do not freeze up during those cold storms and the leaf spores are still able to take in light to create food. How cool is that.

Wait, I have one more thing to share although it is nothing I learned doing research for an article.

I found out that there is a YouTube video of the scene in which Colin Firth

Colin Firth contemplating a bathe from Pride and Prejudice, 1995. Picture from IMDB.com

goes swimming in the lake at Pemberely in the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hasKmDr1yrA&feature=fvw). I have also learned that it has over 988,000 views. Doesn’t this moment deserve to be over a million?

Ok, now it is your turn to share some fun and or strange thing you know about. Do it in the comment area!

Karyn Bowman lives in Kankakee County with her outdoor writer husband and four children. Become friends with Karyn on Facebook.