Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Paris Wife and WIAW for Leap Day

Happy Leap Day! All day, I heard (on the radio) and saw (on Facebook) ways to take advantage of this "extra day" and felt more and more depressed that I wasn't going to be doing something special like that. I stumbled upon an awesome blog post that lists 24 suggestions for ways to fill your 24 hours (check it out here). My favorite is 9 pm - create a time capsule!

Sadly, our Leap Day couldn't be spent celebrating, but we did go for a short walk (neither of us was up for anything intense after yesterday's run from hell) and then headed up to campus for another volunteer meeting for the alumni group we're a part of at UCLA. As always, it was a blast to be in a room filled with Bruin spirit, even after Sports Illustrated published a less than flattering article about our basketball program today. Even better: Our guest speaker tonight was Jim Mora, UCLA's new head football coach! More on that tomorrow, but he was a phenomenal speaker. I included the dinner for tonight's meeting in my What I Ate Wednesday.

Recipe for Spinach-Feta Scrambled Eggs

Also, my friend Sarah gave the okay for me to post her awesome Thai Pork with Peanut Sauce recipe, so get excited for that tomorrow!

To be honest, I may eat a little something after this post, too, but we'll see if sleep wins out.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (Book Review)

Just like last month, Julie from PB Fingers hosted a book club and is linking up book reviews all over the web. This month's book was The Paris Wife, an historical fiction piece written from the perspective of Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley, about their marriage.

  1. Do you feel that Ernest and Hadley truly loved each other?
  2. What do you think of Hadley's character throughout the book?
  3. Hemingway actually married four times before finally committing suicide in 1961. Knowing what we "know" about his first marriage, what do you think of him as a husband, father, and person?
  4. Do you enjoy historical fiction?
  5. Would you recommend this book?
My Thoughts:
  1. It was odd for me to see their relationship unfold. It seemed blatantly obvious that she loved him more than he loved her, despite her frequent attempts to declare that they were perfect for each other and truly loved one another. Even when he said he loved her, it felt untrue and halfhearted. The book's overall tone made me feel as though Hadley was consistently depressed or lonely, even when she claimed to be having fun.
  2. Hadley is a born follower and admittedly becomes "desperate" for Ernest. Throughout their marriage, I was reminded of romantic comedies where I want to shout at the screen because the woman (usually) won't speak her mind. But by the end of the novel, I had grown to like Hadley's new confidence and willingness to be by herself.
  3. I wanted so badly to believe that Ernest really loved Hadley in their tender moments when he would comfort her and call her sweet nicknames, but ultimately, he was a terrible husband. His flirting, the affair, his oscillating emotions - Ernest didn't deserve such a sweet wife.

    I also never sensed any sort of connection between Ernest and Bumby, so I had to conclude that he was a detached and indifferent father at best. Perhaps more detail on the father-son relationship would have shown a different perspective.

    As a person, Ernest seemed exactly like the rest of their friends, the other expatriates. They all drank too much, wore their emotions on their sleeves, experimented with unconventional relationships, and wrote some really great novels. Compared to the others, Ernest wasn't horrible, but he wasn't exactly a hero.
  4. I love reading historical fiction, but I often find myself distracted by questioning what really happened and what didn't. In this case, the scene where Ernest goes to bed with the "dark girl" confused me. Was it simply foreshadowing, or did the author include it for historical significance? I can't let go of the little details.
  5. I would really recommend this book to someone who is genuinely interested in the Lost Generation and any of its key players. I loved that aspect: reading about the authors who enchanted me in eleventh grade English. I also loved all the travel and imagining the romance of the age in such exotic locations. I wanted to jump on a plane back to Europe! (By the way, did anyone else wonder how on earth they were able to travel so much?!) 
If you check out this book or already read it, I'd love to know what you think! It was a quick read, but not really one that grips you. The story reminded me of both The Catcher in the Rye (because Ernest reminded me a lot of Holden Caulfield) and The Great Gatsby (because these writers and their spouses mostly just hang around, party, drink, and travel), so check it out if you liked those ones. The plot isn't exactly a page-turner, but it was fun to read and certainly illustrates the back story of The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway's first novel.

Hope you enjoyed a wonderful Leap Day!


  1. I felt the same way about Leap Day! I wish I would have heard all of those ways to take advantage of the extra day before it got here.

    Great review on The Paris Wife! Now that you bring it up I wonder what the deal with the "dark girl" was. I forgot about that part Maybe it was just foreshadowing. Have you read The Sun Also Rises?

    1. Thanks for the comment! I have read The Sun Also Rises, but I think I'd like to revisit it now that I know the back story. I was never a Hemingway fan, but I think this book would give me a new appreciation for his work.