I can tell that my mother still has amazing powers of influence in my life. Most especially when it comes to books. If she tells me she didn’t care for something, I can bet that I bring a bias to it not easily overcome.
My mom did not like The Paris Wife. I can’t actually remember what exactly she found displeasing or unsuitable, but I do remember she was not fond.
and so, I too was not fond.
Honestly, I was bored.
I did like the protagonist’s name ‘Hadley’.
Why it was her nickname? or why she went by Hadley and not her given name Elizabeth, I don’t recall.
I liked her spunk. Sometimes. By which I mean that sometimes she exhibited some spunk. I didn’t like that she felt lost and overwhelmingly lonesome when Ernie left on his first 3 week assignment. Come on, Hadley! Find something to do! (or go get drunk or … pregnant – THAT will fix things. I didn’t get to this point in the book — I am only assuming that might have happened.)
I was amazed that she was willing to hike through the Alps! I was unimpressed that she chose to wear silly shoes to do so and then felt the need to tell me about it. Be practical, woman!
I don’t know much about Ernie other than to assume I shouldn’t like him. I did google some photos of young Ernie to see what he looked like and I will admit the man was ruggedly handsome. I wasn’t impressed with his moodiness.
I wasn’t impressed with Hadley.
I felt like I was reading a celebrity ‘tell all’ about the poor first wife of some great (?) – famous – person. But I could never summon enough interest to care; except for wondering about other little things mentioned like the neighborhoods in Chicago/St. Louis and that guy who wrote Winesburg Ohio. His wife was named Tennessee? cool. I know absolutely nothing about Ezra Pound – what a name! Sounds like one from a different time. And Gertrude. I am intrigued by Gertrude Stein.
But this book felt like it was going to ramble on into the Poor-Me stories of the girl who had to clean up with the womenfolk after the big dinner and having to miss the fun of watching the football game on TV. Poor Hadley, missing the big conversations about culture and art and literature. Hadley had to sit and have tea with Alice instead.
I was spectacularly aware of how each chapter ended with a doomsdayish ominous teaser about the pain ahead.
“Are you happy?” he said softly.
“You know I am. Do you need to ask?”
“I like asking,” he said. “I like to hear it, even knowing what I’m going to hear.”
“Maybe especially, then,” I said. “Are you happy?”
“Do you need to ask?”
We laughed lightly at one another.
I was annoyed by this book. I made it about 1/4 of the way through.