The Paris Wife is told from the point of view of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley. The book is a work of fiction, but it uses biographies and Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast to accurately follow the lovers as they meet, fall in love, and live in Paris. Eventually their marriage falls apart (because someone whose name rhymes with Shmernest Shmemingway is a man-whore). The book is a dreamy inside look at the lives of Hemingway and other movers and shakers of the literary world during that time -- if you’ve seen and loved Midnight in Paris, you’ll love this book.
Hadley’s world could not be more different than mine. Y and I don’t often run off on impromptu trips to ski or watch the running of the bulls, and while Y’s in med school I’m surrounded by minds of the left-brained variety, while Hadley finds herself surrounded by larger than life creative minds.
But I felt like I got her a lot of the time.
Hadley and Ernest attended get togethers at Gertrude Stein’s home with other artists and their wives. Hadley and the other wives, nothing linking them except their significant others, were sent off to another room while the artists discussed their craft.
“I felt a twinge of regret that I wasn’t a writer or painter, someone special enough to be invited to talk with Gertrude, to sit near her in front of the fire.”
I had this exact same feeling Y’s first year of med school. Y and his new friends would organically migrate to their own separate cluster at get togethers, speaking their secret med school language.
“I wasn’t at all convinced I was special, as Ernest was. He lived inside the creative sphere and I lived outside, and I didn’t know if anything would ever change that.”
The other wives and I would talk about... them. We had nothing in common, so we talked in circles about our husbands, their classes, how busy they were. It was boring, and at times I wished I was in med school so I could belong to something and have original, important things to talk about.
“Alice seemed to feel easier in her role as an artist’s wife, throwing herself wholly behind Gertrude’s ambition... but maybe she’d just been doing it longer and could hide her jealousy better. “
I’ve since gotten over it. Or maybe, like Gertrude Stein's partner Alice, I've gotten better at hiding it.
But isn't that the funny thing about books, that it took reading about the Hemingways’ life in Paris to explain to me how I felt?
What about you guys? Anyone else felt this way?