Thursday, June 14, 2012

WWW and The Paris Wife

Gathering with good friends for any reason is always fun, but the monthly meeting of the Wine, Women and Words Book Club is, for me, always a treat. Our meeting tonight was no exception. In fact, it was extra special.

We met at Liz's home on the west side of Houston for dinner and discussion of Paula McLain's book, The Paris Wife. 

Upon arrival, we were delighted to find French wine and cheese lying in wait. At dinner we enjoyed a delightful menu, prepared from recipes straight from the pages of this book of the month - a bountiful salad, a hearty sausage and chicken cassoulet and, for dessert, a beautiful and yummy fruit tart. 

While enjoying it all, we discussed The Paris Wife. 

The book is an evocative story of ambition and betrayal. It captures Paris in the 1920s and the love affair between Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley. 

The couple meet in Chicago, and following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, set sail for Paris. There, they became part of a lively group of expatriates that included F. Scott and  Zelda Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein.

The book is written in the voice of Hadley, so becoming sympathetic to her comes easily. And, this was reflected in the discussions about the table tonight. 

We talked about Hadley's role as the wife of an artist, and a man like Hemingway. We talked about how she financially supported him as he pursued his dream. We questioned why he never mentioned her in books written while they were together - though a mistress was. We talked about other aspects of their life together - and, finally, Hemingway's tragic death. 

Finally, someone asked: Would any woman of sound mind really want to be married to a man like Hemingway?  A man driven by ambition above all else? 

 In unison, we all agreed, "No! Absolutely not!"

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