Friday, September 30, 2011

Thought on a book: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Its just after the war, the one that was to end them all, and it begins in Chicago.  This is the life of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, fleshed out by imagination, sympathy and affection.  It is told in the first person by the quietly passionate Hadley Richardson who is soon captivated by the young man she meets while staying with friends.  Hemingway is younger, different, electrifying; Hadley's life is instantly changed by him "tall and lean, with a lot of very dark hair, and a dimple in his left cheek you could fall into."

In a flash she is in Paris, married and swept away by the Jazz Age fervour that is everywhere in her new life.  Famous names slip through the pages like quicksilver as the couple are befriended by Gertrude Stein, (Ezra) Pound, F Scott Fitzgerald, and Hemingway takes their advice and writes and polishes and fills his notebooks.  Hadley is described by her husband as his "small perfect cat" and she carries this nickname proudly, curling up in all sorts of small places and content to be with him.

I continued to be annoyed by Hemingway throughout the story, perhaps as a result of identifying with the storyteller as she related the joys of her marriage along with the small adjustments she constantly and happily made to avoid puncturing the bubble that sustained their life.  Despite it being a time of increasing emancipation for women, Hadley contented herself with doing whatever made Ernest happiest.  In the end, it was exactly this value that Hemingway squandered by falling for a brighter more demanding woman and the time of the First Wife was done. That he would kill himself so dramatically, wearing a red robe and standing in a pool of light,  seemed obvious from the very beginning - or is that hindsight?
I loved the descriptions of everywhere the couple and their friends went - the gardens, the bullfights, the train journeys, the apartments, the snowfields.  Cleary McLain delved deep into the Hemingway papers and painted a believable and ultimately sad picture of the brief fierce romance that was the first of four marriages for Hemingway.  At the end of the book Hadley calls herself "that impossibly lucky girl" and I'd like to know more about her.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Back on the shelves.......

I feel like I've returned from a far away place: the land of no books!  After several months of pushing myself to open files and covers, finally I have left the shores of that odd place and returned home.  I hope.  This week I had to try, and so I read the book for my reading group because I think I let down the others if I don't at least make an attempt.  The book wasn't something I was itching to read (what an odd expression - makes me think of fleas and I don't equate them with reading at all), but having been assured it was a quick read, I began.

Indeed it was fast: 2 hours later and the book was done.  It was The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez.  The link takes you to a small review on the Random House website.  I don't know that I agree with the reviewer who wrote that it gave them an insight into life in Kabul but perhaps it does.  Kabul doesn't seem as dangerous in these pages as in other reports, but since I am reading all from the comfort of my armchair in the wilds of Melbourne, what do I know?

Having safely left the shores of the Great Bookless Desert, I turned to my enormous waiting pile of treasures (never mind the electronic ones) and began The Paris Wife by Paula  McLain.  Finding myself wide awake this morning at 5.30am (now that's another strange story) and unable to drift back to sleep, I finished it in a flash and I think I'm still somewhere in Europe.  Review to follow.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Thank God its FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1. When I was 10 years old I had my adult sized feet (and I did look odd!).

2. Pumpkin is my favorite vegetable because it goes with everything, and it comforts me on cold days.

3. My dream pet is one that doesn't shed hair.

4. Don't you love the morning light in spring when sunshine is all that surrounds you?

5. If I could live anywhere in the world I'd live in a small space within the sound of the sea.

6. Spring sunshine..... keep on shinin' on me.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a quiet night at home with the TV, tomorrow my plans include getting the washing out early (sad but true) and Sunday, I want to enjoy breakfast with my Dad for Fathers Day.