TCL’s Shelf Control #6 – Hemming(way) and Hawing.


Shelf Control is a weekly celebration hosted by Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies, of the unread books on our shelves. Lisa says: “Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.”

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

For my 6th entry… The Paris Wife by Paula McLain!

Paris WifeI know that my husband bought this book, and I can’t recall if he liked it or not. My copy has a sticker on it that says we bought it at Blackwell’s and it was on offer (3 for 2)! Knowing that, even if I decide not to read it, I can always say this one was the free one, so nothing lost, right?

Anyway, while I haven’t read much Hemingway, his reputation for being a womanizer, aside from his novels being considered modern classics, has always been a draw. Plus… my regular readers know that I love reading women’s biographical, historical fiction, particularly if it is about a woman I know little to nothing about. Of his four wives, I think I know the least about his first wife, so that’s certainly a draw for me.

Now, I don’t know Paula McLain’s work, nor do I know the work of the author who recommended this book on the cover. No matter. Let’s look at the blurb for this on the back, which is as follows:

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 to write. 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 serves only to drive them further apart. Then, at last, Ernest’s ferocious literary endeavours begin to bring him recognition – not least from a woman intent on making him her own . . .

Well, that sounds interesting. That said, I notice that on Goodreads there’s this:

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.

Oh, now I’m worried. I don’t like novels that have too much name-dropping. I can recall at least two novels that I recently tossed into the DNF bin because they focused way too much on other, more famous people than the main character of the book, and this sounds like it might have that drawback for me. So… Let’s take a look at the opening quotes, before the prologue:.

“It is not what France gave you, but what it did not take from you that was important.” – GERTRUDE STEIN

“There’s no one thing that’s true. It’s all true.”  –  ERNEST HEMINGWAY

Well, that tells me… her… very little. Let’s see the first paragraph of the Prologue:

Though I often looked for one, I finally had to admit that there would be no cure for Paris. Part of it was the war. The world had ended once already and could again at any moment. The war had come and changed us by happening when everyone said it couldn’t. No one knew how many had died, but when you heard the numbers – nine million or fourteen million – you thought impossible. Paris was full of ghosts and the walking wounded. Many came back to Rouen or Oak Park, Illinois shot through and carrying little pieces of what they’d seen behind their kneecaps, full of an emptiness they could never dislodge. They’d carried bodies on stretchers, stepping over other bodies to do it; they’d been on stretchers themselves, on slow-moving trains full of flies and the floating voice of someone saying he wanted to be remembered to his girl back home.

Okay so… Oak Park… yes, I know where that is; my mother grew up there, and it is a village west of Chicago. This still doesn’t tell me much more, but it does make me want to read on. So, while I’m not totally sold…

My verdict is… 

YES this will stay on my TBR list!

From what I’ve put here, would you read it? Have you read it? If so, would you recommend it?

You still want to buy this book you can find it via the following (affiliate) links: Amazon,, UK.Bookshop, iTunes (iBook and iAudiobook), Indiebound, Alibris, Kobo (eBooks and audiobooks), Better World Books, Booksamillion,, Foyles, The Book Depository (UK and US), WaterstonesWHSmith, and Wordery (UK and US).

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments to Lisa’s latest post, or link back from your own post, so Lisa can add you to the participant list.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

What about you?

What books do you have on your shelf that you haven’t read yet?

9 thoughts on “TCL’s Shelf Control #6 – Hemming(way) and Hawing.

  1. I bought this having read Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood which I found fascinating though I have a strong aversion to Hemingway’s writing. What an odious man he was


  2. I thought I read this, but it turns out I read another book by McLain (Circling the Sun), which I thought was an unconvincing portrait of Beryl Markham, and a different book about Hemingway’s wives, Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood. If you are interested, here’s my review of that, although I hesitate to just add the link, because I think providing a link to your own blog unasked is rude. Let me know if you didn’t like that I did it, and I won’t do it again:

    Liked by 1 person

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