Reader reviews for Paris Without End: The True Story of Hemingway's First Wife

wahhooo, this one is a 'beaut
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This is a biography about Hadley Richardson, who was ERnest Hemingway's first wife. As is usual fwih someone whose singulaar claim to fame is that she was married to a famous man, this book is really moer about Ernest than it is about Hadley.
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Gioia DiLiberto's biography of Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway's first wife, is a wonderful narrative of the Nobel Prize winner's muse. It is well-documented with 40 pages of notes detailing specific citations of information, many of them from primary sources. A 14 page index provides locations devoted to all the major figures in the enduring love story. There is an "conversation" with the author and a reader's guide is provided.Hadley and the younger Ernest were high energy young adults when they were married, each influenced for a lifetime by their Midwestern family upbringing. Both enjoyed outdoor activities (hiking) and sports (skiing). They also developed habits of drinking, and smoking in Hadley's case, that increased as they went from economic hardship to affluence. Hadley was a drinking partner for Ernest during their 5 years of marriage, and this contributed to the novelty and fun of moving from the US to living in Europe. Both were able to party every night and still get up in the morning full of energy and enthusiasm. Ernest had a focal point of writing and Hadley supported this without a meaningful one of her own.I found in Paris Without End that there were positive factors in the intense relationship between Hadley and Ernest that support the idea that Hadley was a muse for him. These positives became overshadowed by negatives as the marriage began to unravel. First, dependence on alcohol was a major influence on the marriage and Ernest's writing. This can be observed in the nostalgia concerning the relationship Ernest described so eloquently in A Moveable Feast. In addition to short stories written during the cafe life Paris years, The Sun Also Rises was completed during the early years of the marriage. It is a novel focusing on partying and complicated relationships of expatriate friends mirroring Hadley and Ernest's activities. The young couple definitely lived the high life with little money required in Paris, fueled by alcohol. The problem with this is that drinking took its destructive toll even though the two were remarkably resilient.A second positive is that Hadley was a good sport. She went along with Ernest's desire for traveling and his efforts to meet as many writers and artists as possible. A common misinterpretation is that Hadley was a drag on Ernest's hypomanic interests. The truth is just the opposite. She participated in the Hemingway's constant movement and interaction even though she was marginalized by the artistic crowd because she did not have a creative focal point of her own. Oddly enough, Hadley was a very good piano player, an artist in her own right, who appeared to have stage fright. She could practice for hours but then backed out of concerts when it came time to perform.A third positive that backs the idea that Hadley was a muse was her support for Ernest's writing. Even though his style was ground-breaking and changed the direction of literature, it was not well-received at first. His early short stories were rejected many times. Hadley read all of his work and suggested that he write in a straight-forward minimalist style cutting out the embellishments of contemporary writers. This was very helpful to Ernest's persistence in establishing his unique approach to story telling. An unexpected problem in this area had a major influence in the decline of their relationship. Ernest earned money during the rejection period by working as a correspondent for US newspapers. On one assignment when the couple were separated, Ernest asked Hadley to join him on location. Hadley gathered up all of Ernest's work in progress (including the carbon copies) and took a train from Paris to meet him. The bag containing the manuscripts was stolen, and almost all of the work was lost. Ernest forgave Hadley, but the lack of trust in her seemed to decrease Ernest's love for her in a permanent way.The last positive was Hadley's pregnancy, a great surprise for both of them, even though they were aware of a time of carelessness in their birth control methods that allowed for the conception. The birth of their son gave Hadley a focus of her own that she had not had during early part of the marriage. Hadley had mostly given up practicing her piano playing. Both Hadley and Ernest loved "Bumby" very much and delighted in his early development. As with the other three positives, this turned to a negative influence when Bumby became ill and had to be quarantined. This led to Hadley reducing her social and physical activity to some extent while Ernest seemed to increase his drinking and socializing. This restriction of Hadley's movements and interaction may have opened the door enough for the journalist Pauline Pfeiffer, Ernest's second wife, to compete with Hadley and eventually win him over.Ernest's work was a constant focus, but Hadley's roll as muse seemed to diminish over time. It is clear, though, that Hadley had a lasting effect on Ernest's best writing. His 3 greatest works (The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, and For Whom the Bell Tolls) are partly love stories that reflect Ernest's attitude toward love and marriage he developed during his 5 year marriage to Hadley. Gioia DiLiberto's book is a biography that reads like a novel. The factual account, however, is reliable and valid with a minimum of speculation. For readers who like learning about the lives of great writers, I highly recommend that they read this interesting and enjoyable book.
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I found this book to be very interesting and learned a lot about Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway's first wife, through the reading of it. I understand why his quotes: "I wish I had died before I ever loved anyone but her." and "I only loved one woman and then lost her." and where they came from.Hadley was a very unhappy girl who grew up in a home (house) dominated by her mother who appeared to me to be jealous of Hadley, who hated men, thought sex was a destroyer of women and conjured her other daughter to join her in organizing groups to 'save' women from men. However she, Hadley, did live with her mother, taking care of house and her mother when she became ill and remaining with her through her death. Only then did she embark on a life of her own.Hadley Richardson was a fascinating woman on her own, aside from Hemingway. And from the accounts in this book, other that her years growing up and to 28 when her mother passed, and the years immediately after her breakup with Hemingway, she led a happy and fulfilling life.I disagree with the one other reviewer on this book that it is more about Hemingway than Hadley and I would have liked to have known her. I would love to have someone like her in my life.I recommend this book to any bio lover whether they cared for the work of Ernest Hemingway or not and I rated it 3 1/2 stars.
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