It started with the movie Midnight in Paris, which I didn't even really love, but it made me curious about Zelda Fitzgerald. So I read her biography, which I also didn't really love, and I became even more intrigued about this infamous group of literary friendships in France in the 20's. Finally, after avoiding it for months, I picked up Paula McClain's The Paris Wife, a fictionalized account of Hadley Hemingway, Ernest's first wife.
It has easily been one of my favorite books of the year. You simply must pick it up if you haven't already. I like to read about the literary world, I'm obsessed with the historical and modern wife role, and this book is so easy and entertaining to read.
While it is a work of fiction, from what I understand it is as accurate as possible. You will feel for Hadley Hemingway. You will be excited for her, content with her, frustrated with her, and heartbroken for her. It hit all of my emotions.
When it was over (and I strongly didn't want it to be over), I have to fess up that I needed to read a little of Ernest Hemingway himself. I'm embarrassed to say that in all of my literary education, I missed him completely. Or maybe I avoided him? His name alone sounds like a snoozefest. Because it related to the time period in question, I opted to start with A Moveable Feast, Ernest's memoir of those years in Paris, published posthumously.
Hemingway's writing and style is jerky, and I feel like that if I hadn't already read several books covering the same topic, I would have little clue as to what A Moveable Feast was about. There were some jewels in it - the chapter about F. Scott Fitzgerald was one of the best things I've ever read - but overall, I was left wanting.
I think I need to read one of Hemingway's novels before I pass judgment overall. There is something appealing about his short sentences and blunt storytelling, but I want to see it in another form. It is interesting to me that the most famous American writers of that generation told the stories that they were living just then, that it wasn't sole works of fiction. Their tales, their characters, they're based in their current reality more than I would assume writers of the 2000's do. But maybe I'm wrong.
Knowing that I couldn't get enough of Paris writers in the 20's, my friend recently sent me Everybody Was So Young by Amanda Vaill. I'm going to dive into it soon, to feed an addiction with a group of people who have long sparked jealousy.
You don't have to take the convoluted path I did, just read The Paris Wife. What are you reading this summer?