Tuesday, May 31, 2011

June Read: The Red Leather Diary

Okay, if you couldn't join us for the inaugural book The Paris Wife,  I hope you can join us for our second selection The Red Leather Diary  by Lily Koppel.  This is a non-fiction selection which I have been wanting to read for years and now I have an excuse to do it.

I'll be posting a few questions and some info about this book during June.  I think I am not alone in thinking that women who lived in the first half of the 20th century had a life that was a bit cloistered and they didn't have any fun at all, or much of anything to do but find a husband.  I am pretty sure this book will make me see things in a different light!  

Here's to another intriguing read.  And also, we have a book picked out for July, but I am taking suggestions for the next batch of books for the club.  Anything you're itching to read and discuss?  Remember, it doesn't have to be a new book, and it can be fiction or non-fiction.  I'll be posting our reading list for August, September, and October at the end of this month, so please feel free to suggest titles.  

And thank you to all who read and commented on our first selection.  

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Paris Wife: What Are Your Final Thoughts?

May is almost over, and that means we will be starting our June selection, The Red Leather Diary by Lily Koppel next week.  It's available in paperback for those on a budget, and you can probably get used copies, too.

I'll be posting some information about this book next week.  I can't wait to read it.

Anyway--back to The Paris Wife.  I finished it a few weeks ago, and I have to say I have mixed feelings about it.  The writing was beautiful, and I appreciated the short insights the reader had into Ernest's feelings; I think otherwise I would have been even more annoyed at him without them.

I can say I am firmly on Hadley's side.  I don't know how she lived with a man who was so obsessed with his writing--to the point that he would spend hours a day agonizing over a few sentences. I think they did love each other at the beginning, but Ernest seems to be the type to fall in and out of love easily.  I think he felt responsible for Hadley, but he knew she would pretty much go along with what he decided.

I was almost shouting at the novel when Hadley was trying to decide if she should stay with Ernest and Pauline in the wife-mistress-man scenario.  I looked at it from a woman's point of view in 2011; I don't know if I would have felt different in the 1920's.  I am so glad she found love again, with a good man.

Ernest was a very complex man, and I think he used the "artist" card to dismiss his behavior not only towards Hadley, but towards his friends.  What a bunch of damaged people!

What are your final thoughts on the book?  Are you glad you read it?  Are you interested in reading more about Ernest Hemingway?

I did do some googling, and found out he had two more sons with Pauline; cheated on her, and married two more times before his death.  John Hemingway, his son with Hadley, died in the 1990's and is the father of Margeaux and Mariel Hemingway.  Mariel's middle name is Hadley.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

More Questions for The Paris Wife

I'm about halfway through The Paris Wife.  How about you?  I know some of you haven't started, while others are done!  I will say, at first I had a hard time getting into the novel, but I am fully engaged in the story of Hadley and Ernest, and will probably finish it by the end of the weekend.

Here's a few more questions to ponder courtesy of The Princeton Book Review:

4. The Hemingways spontaneously opt for Paris over Rome when they get key advice from Sherwood Anderson. What was life like for them when they first arrived? How did Hadley's initial feelings about Paris differ from Ernest's and why?

5. Throughout THE PARIS WIFE, Hadley refers to herself as "Victorian" as opposed to "modern." What are some of the ways she doesn't feel like she fits into life in bohemian Paris? How does this impact her relationship with Ernest? Her self-esteem? What are some of the ways Hadley's "old-fashioned" quality can be seen as a strength and not a weakness?

6. Hadley and Ernest's marriage survived for many years in Jazz-Age Paris, an environment that had very little patience for monogamy and other traditional values. What in their relationship seems to sustain them? How does their marriage differ from those around them? Pound's and Shakespeare's? Scott and Zelda's?

I think it's interesting to see Paris after World War 1, and before World War 2.  I do like Hadley, but I find myself feeling a bit frustrated for her.  I can't say I would put up with such a moody husband.  And I am astounded at the amount of time and frustration Ernest spends on his writing.  To know that he does become a famous novelist, but seeing him before that happens is fascinating.

What are your thoughts?