From the blurb:
Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a shy twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness when she meets Ernest Hemingway and is captivated by his energy, intensity and burning ambition. After a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for France. But glamorous Jazz Age Paris, full of artists and writers, fuelled by alcohol and gossip, is no place for family life and fidelity. Ernest and Hadley’s marriage begins to founder, and the birth of a beloved son only drives them further apart. Then at last, Ernest’s ferocious literary endeavours bring him recognition – not least from a woman intent on making him her own. . .
This book had me searching out biographies of Ernest and Hadley as I was so moved by the story of their marriage. I felt deeply for his wife and was interested to find out what became of her. It was certainly not a time of women’s liberation.
After their arrival in Paris they became the golden couple in a lively group that included Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. The Hemingways were not prepared for the life of Jazz Age Paris where the idea of family and monogamy were not paramount. Hemingway had difficulty finding the voice for his novel The Sun Also Rises which would eventually give him his place in history. Hadley, was the character I felt for as she tried to hold on to her sense of self with the many demands imposed on her by Ernest.
This is a heartbreaking novel but well worth the read.
To follow up on what I discovered about Hadley I am now going to read Paris without end: the true story of Hemingway’s first wife.