Paula McLain writes well.
I think my review may be more of a bit more of a rant rather than a review because I am becoming resentful of writers who exploit famous persons for their own profit and benefit. Hemingway has been exploited by many writers including Terry Fallis though not in the same sense as other writers do.
Find your own topic Mr/Ms. Writer. Hemingway did not live his life for you. So quit cashing in on his fame and famous life, and even more famous death.
Cash in on your own creativity which will demand more energy, more inspiration, more determination and more effort on your part as a writer. I understand it is easier to write anything based on a well known persona. You do not need to create; you do not need to establish original events, incidents, experiences. You merely imagine and augment what has already been written by others on your topic. Far easier to do that than to establish original ideas, create new scenes and write your opus based on your own creativity.
This is far more sensitive, some will say insensitive. I have never entertained thoughts of suicide though I have had extremely stressful times in my life. Even in the very worst of times, when I thought life was about as bad as it could get, I always thought, wait till tomorrow, it may get better.
So I have little sympathy or empathy for suicide victims. Obviously I cannot walk in their shoes, feeling their pain, understanding their despair and sense of hopelessness, nor do I want to do so. I cannot walk in those shoes and gratefully I do not. Hence it is easier for me to rant less forgivingly at those who have taken their own lives.
I may be trying to preach to myself here. Try to understand, these people have absolutely no belief that tomorrow might be better, that things could improve, that life could take a turn for the better. They view life in a monotone of colour, BLACK. They likely have no one who encourages them, supports them, and tries to instill some hope for improvement to their situation in them.
These victims are NOT thinking, never mind thinking clearly. Logic tells you that there is an end to everything, BAD as well as GOOD. You just have to wait for it. But these victims do not listen to the voice of logic, the voice of reason which is correct in voicing that life will get better. Yet for some victims, how can there be any hope; terminally ill; chronically and relentlessly in pain with not hope of a medical recovery. In fact, logic and reason reinforces the hopelessness of their condition. It can only get worse.
Because I have never been in that condition of being chronically and unrecoverably ill and in pain, I cannot empathize with those victims. Perhaps their suicides can be understood, accepted or self justified. I am on tenuous ground here with little certainty.
I remember Cole Porter’s life of chronic and relentless pain in his later years after a horse riding accident. Hemingway suffered similarly after escaping not one, but two plane crashes while trying to safari in Africa. I have never suffered such pains and hence cannot understand what life must be like for those who do suffer. It is easy to sit in one’s comfortable chair and rant about what others should do, should not do and morally judge the wrongfulness or rightfulness of what they ultimately did. (Porter died after kidney surgery, not suicide.)
Hemingway is a fashion today. The topic of the day in many writer’s operas. Maybe he deserves attention like that, maybe not. I am not sure. But suicide victims should be put at the back of life’s bus not highlighted, or worse still, seemingly honoured. Here again, some would write they are not being honoured as suicide victims, but for their life achievements. Then, leave it at that point.
McLain writes a diary, a plausible but creatively imagined diary of Hemingway’s first wife Hadley Richardson. In the beginning, I felt like an intruder reading someone’s life journal, an intrusion into their privacy. Soon, the writer began to draw me into her story. Her dialogues were plausible, her descriptions of Paris life in the 1920’s possible and believable. Her writing style grew more and more magnetic as I read on. Eventually, she hooked me and I let myself range on her fields of prose and literary blossoms. It became more and more enjoyable even as the story took its downturn.
Recommend or rant about the book
If you are a romantic, if you are a gadabout, if you are a social butterfly, dive in. This book will have you dreaming about socializing with the likes of F. Scott, Coco Chanel, Picasso and the like in prohibition era Paris which was the gay night compared to the USA’s dark days. If romance buoys your spirits, flies you kite, billows your sails…enjoy !