Hello GAB readers! Hopefully you enjoyed The Paris Wife by Paula McLain as much as I did. I thought it was a wonderful book full of interesting commentary on marriage and infidelity in post-war Europe, and I also thought that the fictionalized portrayal of the Hemmingways was done very well. What did you think?
Please give your overall impression of the book in the comments, and use the following questions to guide your discussion.
Discussion Questions for The Paris Wife (Adapted from the reading guide in the book)
- Hadley and Ernest’s marriage survived for many years in Jazz-Age Paris, an environment that had very little patience for monogamy and other traditional values. What in their relationship seems to sustain them? How does their marriage differ from those around them?
- What was the role of literary spouses in 1920’s Paris? How is Hadley challenged and restricted by her gender? Would those restrictions have changed if she had been an artist and not merely a “wife?”
- In the 1920’s, women felt the overwhelming need to make their husbands happy. Is this still the same today? Why/why not?
- There are several examples in the book of men coming between women’s friendships – Kate and Hadley in the beginning of the book, and Hadley and Pauline at the end of the book to name a few examples. How might things have been different if the women chose each other’s friendship over love?
- How might Hadley and Ernest’s relationship have been different if they had stayed in the States? In Toronto? In Spain? If they had opted for Rome instead? How is the setting of 1920’s Paris like another character in the story?
- This is historical fiction, but it is about famous people who truly lived. How well do you think Paula McLain tackled the daunting task of bringing these characters to life on the page?
- What impact does the war have on the choices and behavior of the expatriate artists surrounding the Hemingways? How do Ernest and Hadley change in relation to the world around them?
Image courtesy of Goodreads.com.