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Extended Audio Sample The Paris Wife: A Novel Audiobook, by Paula McLain Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (77,825 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Paula McLain Narrator: Carrington MacDuffie Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2011 ISBN: 9780307877192
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Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight year old who has all but given up on love and happiness, until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group, the fabled “Lost Generation,” that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises. Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold on to her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage, a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.

A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Set among the glamorous literati in Bohemian 1920s Paris, this novel celebrates the life of Hadley Richardson, the first Mrs. Ernest Hemingway.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine, “Ten Titles to Pick Up Now”

  • Engrossing and heartbreaking.... McLain is masterful at mining Hadley's confusion and pain, her crushing realization that she cannot fight for a love that has already disappeared. Cleveland Plain Dealer
  • A well-crafted novel ... Paula McLain is a master at creating narratives that are so lively, they seem to leap from the printed page. Tucson Citizen
  • “One of the most important books of this year. McLain is a novelist to watch. Naples Daily News
  • The Paris Wife is mesmerizing. Hadley Hemingway’s voice, lean and lyrical, kept me in my seat, unable to take my eyes and ears away from these young lovers.  Paula McLain is a first-rate writer who creates a world you don’t want to leave. I loved this book. Nancy Horan, New York Times bestselling author of Loving Frank
  • "After nearly a century, there is a reason that the Lost Generation and Paris in the 1920’s still fascinate.   It was a unique intersection of time and place, people and inspiration, romance and intrigue, betrayal and tragedy.   The Paris Wife brings that era to life through the eyes of Hadley Richardson Hemingway, who steps out of the shadows as the first wife of Ernest, and into the reader’s mind, as beautiful and as luminous as those extraordinary days in Paris after the Great War. Mary Chapin Carpenter, singer and songwriter
  • Despite all that has been written about Hemingway by others and by the man himself, the magic of The Paris Wife is that this Hemingway and this Paris, as imagined by Paula McLain, ring so true I felt as if I was eavesdropping on something new. As seen by the sure and steady eye of his first wife, Hadley, here is the spectacle of the man becoming the legend set against the bright jazzed heat of Paris in the 20s. As much about life and how we try and catch it as it is about love even as it vanishes, this is an utterly absorbing novel. Sarah Blake, New York Times bestselling author of The Postmistress
  • McLain offers a vivid addition to the complex-woman-behind-the-legendary-man genre, bringing Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, to life.... The heart of the story--Ernest and Hadley's relationship--gets an honest reckoning, most notably the waves of elation and despair that pull them apart. Publishers Weekly
  • McLain smartly explores Hadley's ambivalence about her role as supportive wife to a budding genius.... Women and book groups are going to eat up this novel. USA Today
  • By making the ordinary come to life, McLain has written a beautiful portrait of being in Paris in the glittering 1920s — as a wife and one's own woman.... McLain's vivid, clear-voiced novel is a conjecture, an act of imaginary autobiography on the part of the author. Yet her biographical and geographical research is so deep, and her empathy for the real Hadley Richardson so forthright (without being intrusively femme partisan), that the account reads as very real indeed. Entertainment Weekly
  • Written much in the style of Nancy Horan's Loving Frank ... Paula McLain's fictional account of Hemingway's first marriage beautifully captures the sense of despair and faint hope that pervaded the era and their marriage. Associated Press
  • Lyrical and exhilarating.... McLain offers a raw and fresh look at the prolific Hemingway. In this mesmerizing and helluva-good-time novel, McLain inhabits Richardson’s voice and guides us from Chicago—Richardson and Hemingway’s initial stomping ground—to the place where their life together really begins: Paris. Elle.com

    “McLain’s vivid account of the couple’s love affair and expat adventures will leave you feeling sad yet dazzled.
  • “Told in the voice of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain, is a richly imagined portrait of bohemian 1920s Paris, and of America literature’s original bad boy. Town & Country
  • Novelist and memoirist Paula McLain traces the life of Hadley Hemingway, first wife of Ernest Hemingway, in this evocative novel set largely in Paris in the Jazz Age. Christian Science Monitor
  • McLain's novel not only gives Hadley a voice, but one that seems authentic and admirable.... A certain amount of bravery is required in writing a novel that channels a giant of American literature. Yet McLain pulls it off convincingly, conveying Hemingway's interior life and his profound struggles. She makes a compelling case that Hadley was a crucial (and long-lasting) influence on Hemingway's writing life: a partner as well as a cheerleader. She also revisits, with remarkable detail, a singular era in history, one that would produce some of the greatest literary works of the 20th century. Newsday
  • “McLain smartly explores Hadley’s ambivalence about her role as supportive wife to a budding genius…Women and book groups are going to eat up this novel.”

    USA Today

  • McLain’s fictional account of Hemingway’s first marriage beautifully captures the sense of despair and faint hope that pervaded the era and their marriage.” 

    Associated Press

  • “McLain’s vivid account of the couple’s love affair and expat adventures will leave you feeling sad yet dazzled.”

    Parade

  • “McLain offers a vivid addition to the complex-woman-behind-the-legendary-man genre, bringing Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, to life…The heart of the story—Ernest and Hadley’s relationship—gets an honest reckoning, most notably the waves of elation and despair that pull them apart.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • Selected for the March 2011 Indie Next List
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • One of the 2011 Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books for Historical Fiction
  • A 2011 People Magazine Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2011 Chicago Tribune Book of the Year for Fiction
  • A 2011 NPR Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2011 BookPage Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2011 Barnes & Noble Best Book for Fiction
  • A Publishers Weekly Bestseller
  • A #1 Los Angeles Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 B.J. | 2/10/2014

    " It was interesting, but I felt the middle dragged. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ann Torrey | 2/8/2014

    " This was a really good book, shows a lot how different countries live and also how people's thinking are so different. Ended a little sad, however but still enjoyed it very much. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Sarah | 2/8/2014

    " Ugh... book club choice. One of the few books I can ever say I didn't finish reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Georgann | 2/3/2014

    " I don't know how she did it, but Paula McLain made me believe I was reading Hadley Richardson's memoir. The evocation of time, place and personality is wonderful. Finely imagined and well researched this is historical fiction as it was meant to be. Hadley must have been a brave and intelligent woman who did more for Hemingway's career than she was ever credited for. And the tragic genius of Hemingway is detailed here as well as in any biography or critical study. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stephanie | 1/29/2014

    " The story of Hemingway and his first wife is fascinating, but I'd say you would be better off reading A Moveable Feast, his memoir of that time. I didn't feel that McLain added a new dimension to the story by telling it from Hadley's (fictionalized) perspective. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Charlotte | 1/25/2014

    " Paris of the lost generation is of immense interest to me and this book is a true representation of the era. McLain has done a superb job of weaving a complex life's story out of scanty facts about Hemingway's first wife, Hadley. I believe her expansion of her subject has been done flawlessly to produce an engaging read sure to excite all devotees of both Hemingway and the lost generation. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amanda | 1/24/2014

    " So this is a tough one to rate. I hated the characters, they made me incredibly mad. However perhaps that is a reflection on the author herself, who could elicit such emotion out of me when reading the book. It was well done but I couldn't stand the people or their actions, perhaps if there had been one character I did like, it would of been more bearable. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Audrey | 1/24/2014

    " I read this book because the author was coming to Pittsburgh for a literary event that I bought tickets to. She is a wonderful speaker and I really enjoyed the event. I also enjoyed the book. My heart ached for Hadley and Ms. McLain was able to make you feel for her. She was strong and practical when everyone else was not. She knew what she wanted and was willing to do what it took for her own happiness. EH was a beast who did not deserve her. And her "best friend" Pauline was scandalous. No one needs friends like that. I never do spoilers so you will have to read it for yourself. I will read more by Paula McLain. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Felisa | 1/19/2014

    " Liked it - not my favorite but glad I read it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Janice Shepard | 1/15/2014

    " An interesting enough story...it made me think about how fragile and tenuous relationships can be. I wanted to give Hadley a backbone! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donni | 1/11/2014

    " If you love Hemminway you will like this book! Gives you an insight as to his subject matter in his first books and his complicated relationships with women and literary friends. Good read!! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lshanna | 1/4/2014

    " I loved this-- excellent history, embellished with great details. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amanda | 1/3/2014

    " Had this book on my To Read shelves for quite some time. I'm not sure why I waited so long. I found this book lovely and well written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alyssa | 12/15/2013

    " I liked the writing, and loved the descriptions of 1920s Paris, but the main character really frustrated me - she was such a doormat. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mandy | 12/13/2013

    " Finding it very hard to finish this book....I expected better writing. I had to skip through multiple dialogue text, because I couldn't stand to read one more "he said, she said" line. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy | 12/11/2013

    " I felt very connected reading this story and I don't always get this gift from the author. I was captured by her rich details and enjoyed each page. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda | 12/9/2013

    " Excellent book. But after reading what a sorry cheating excuse of a husband he was i will definitely never read a Hemingway book. Sorry. But no. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chantal | 7/10/2013

    " I forgot I wasn't reading an autobiography, MacLaine writes with such conviction. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Janet Dunnagan | 6/17/2013

    " Loved this book! Just loved it! My fav books are those that I can disappear into and lose myself for a few hours...this was one of those! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patsey Reilly | 5/26/2013

    " I liked this book as I got further into it. Learned a lot about Ernest Hemingway, his first wife, and life in Paris in the 1920's. I cannot believe they could function with all the drinking they did! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ruth Parker | 3/22/2013

    " I really enjoyed this book because so much history was in there. Hemingway, Fitsggerald, and other famous writers were all part of the book. I learned a lot I did not know about Hemingway. There was also a good story behing the history. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lynne | 12/17/2012

    " I loved this book. Great audio. I never knew anything about young Ernest Hemingway. Beautifully written book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nadia Khawaja | 8/16/2012

    " This piece of historical fiction is very well done; keeps you interested and motivated; loved it "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anita | 7/2/2012

    " Really enjoyed this look at Hemingway's early days in Paris. The author's use of Hadley, his first wife, as a narrative lens allows a new perspective on him. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mallory Scott Whitehouse | 6/9/2012

    " One of my favorite books from the past 5 years. I've read it twice. I love it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen | 5/26/2012

    " It was fun to read for the personal connections to Oak Park, Petosky, Walloon and Key West. All in all, an interesting story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joanne | 12/10/2011

    " Loved the story and the almost real life story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tammy Caporale | 10/26/2011

    " Great love story and enjoyed learning more about Hemingway's early years. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Fran | 10/8/2011

    " A fascinating story based on the first wife of Ernest Hemingway. A great read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beth | 10/7/2011

    " There are some lovely moments of brilliance in this book that I adored. At other times I wanted a bit faster pace. I would have given this 3.5 stars and would recommend for a holiday/travel read. Fast, engaging with a main character I really liked as well as how the author wrote her voice. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marie | 8/23/2011

    " I liked it more than I thought I would. I liked Hadley, and the writing was good. 3 1/2 "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brittany | 6/30/2011

    " This book was wonderful. I loved the story and the historical figures and getting to see how their love began and grew and then eventually failed. I thought this book was well written and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rosie | 6/2/2011

    " A great historical novel about authors and arists in the early 1900's. A poignant love story, made sadder by knowing the history of it all. Definitely a good read. It prompted me to look for some old Hemingway writing to download to my Kindle. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ellie | 6/1/2011

    " A compelling story. Interesting historical perspective. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gina | 6/1/2011

    " Read it in one afternoon, so that should tell you a lot :) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda | 5/31/2011

    " I was expecting more.However the book was still good "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Diane | 5/30/2011

    " It gave a different perspective on Hemingway's life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ilona | 5/30/2011

    " Saaaad... and reinforces Hemingway's legacy as a misogynistic prick. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Quinn | 5/30/2011

    " Good historical fiction based upon real life of Earnest Hemmingway and first wife Hadley. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sue | 5/30/2011

    " Really liked this book - about Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley. Takes place in the 1920's. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Val | 5/30/2011

    " This book is told from the point of view of Ernest Hemingway's first wife. I always enjoy these fictional biographies, especially when they explore what may have been going through the mind of those who are considered a side-note to someone famous. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carol | 5/29/2011

    " Loved this book....made me look up all the real people mentioned. Hemingway, though brilliant is a sad individual and they seemed unlikely as a couple, but their lives together were certainly filled with lots of partying and love in the early years. "

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About the Author
Author Paula McLain

Paula McLain was born in Fresno, California in 1965. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan in 1996. Since then, she has received fellowships from the corporation of Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Ucross Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her first book of poetry, Less of Her, was published in 1999 from New Issues Press and won a publication grant from the Greenwall Fund of the Academy of American Poets. She’s also the author of a second collection of poetry, Stumble, Gorgeous, a memoir, Like Family: Growing Up In Other People’s Houses, and the novel, A Ticket to Ride. She teaches in the MFA Program in Poetry at New England College, and lives with her family in Cleveland.

About the Narrator

Carrington MacDuffie is a voice actor and recording artist who has narrated over two hundred audiobooks, received numerous AudioFile Earphones Awards, and has been a frequent finalist for the Audie Award, including for her original audiobook, Many Things Invisible. Alongside her narration work, she has released a new album of original songs, Only an Angel.