Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Paris Wife, Part Two: So This Is the End

The novel ended just like the history books.  No startling revelations or new found secrets.  It just was.  She lived her life, and we can just go to Wikipedia for his.  I have to admit I became obsessed for several days with the many characters that breezed through.  Who were they really?  What significance did they make?  I Googled their images and wondered about those hot days in Spain that were so critical to Hemingway. Of course, this novel wasn't their story, so we didn't really get to know their motivations; instead, they were characters who fretted their hour upon stage and then no more.  This made the illusion of Paris more real because who really knows the superficial. By the way, the biography of Duff is fascinating, and she knew how to make a grand exit. Too bad she wasn't explored more.

Desperation filled the climax and falling action of the story.  Could you, would you try to save a marriage that gave no sense of fulfillment?  Could you, would you sacrifice yourself for the love of another?  It is easy to read the fiction and grumpily say NO, but what do we actually lose when we love?  How much do we throw out and never see returned.  The Hemingways burned bright and then burned out.  The failure of the marriage seems to have haunted Hemingway where he later wrote A Movable Feast, and I have to wonder did the myth actually live to regret his actions and heartbreak, not just to Hadley, but to the others who followed him to ends of the world and back.  Why him?  What exactly was his power?   Was it basically the thoughts of changing the man?  Comfort to the loss?  Rescuing that that cannot be saved?  Maybe it was just lust. Maybe all of the above.  Women break every day trying to save the broken.

The resolution to the story feels rushed and a bit tacked on, but I cannot see how it would be otherwise.  Time passed quickly, and then it is over.  After I closed the last page, I couldn't help but wonder how much of the novel is accurate, but the glimmering characters give more to the idea of myth vs. reality.  To know the full truth would only take away from the mystery.  Sometimes fantasy is better.

  Hemingway explored masculinity in his novels, and The Paris Wife seems to be the antithesis of his very nature.  Every aspect of feminine relationship is explored:  wife, mother, lover, child, sister, friend. Hemingway may tell us what it takes to be a man, but Hadley allows us to understand the egnima of the woman.

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