Winnetka’s “One Book” selection gives Hemingway’s first wife her due
Paula McLain, author of "The Paris Wife" and seen here speaking to a crowd in Willowbrook, speaks in Winneka later this month about her book on Ernest Hemmingway's first wife. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 13, 2012 7:07AM
WINNETKA — Book lovers fascinated by Ernest Hemingway or simply intrigued by complex relationships have found plenty of topics to plumb after reading “The Paris Wife,” the 2012 selection for the Winnetka-Northfield Library District’s “One Book Two Villages” initiative.
The book is a fictionalized account of Hemingway’s sometimes stormy relationship with Hadley Richardson, the first of the writer’s four wives. The story is told mostly through her eyes as the two inhabit the Bohemian artists’ world of Paris during the 1920s. Richardson was 28 when she wed the 21-year-old Ernest and some believe remained his most enduring muse, though the couple divorced in 1927 after he took up with a wealthy woman who’d befriended the pair.
“I wish I had died before I met anyone but (Hadley),” Hemingway writes near the end of “A Moveable Feast”, his account of his years in Paris.
“I first came to know Hadley in the pages of ‘A Moveable Feast,’ “ said Paula McLain, the author of “The Paris Wife” who will be visiting Winnetka next week. McLain found Hemingway’s reminiscences about Hadley so moving that she began seeking out biographies on the woman, who by all accounts had her own dark side.
“She’s the perfect person to show us a (tender, vulnerable and very human) side of Hemingway we’ve never seen before. But she’s also an extraordinary person in her own right.”
Next week, McLain will appear at several events July 19 and July 20. Following a sold-out cocktail reception July 19, McLain will be giving a lecture from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at Matz Hall in the Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln St., Winnetka. Tickets to the lecture may be purchased at www.OneBookTwoVillages.org.
McLain also will be signing books at the library district’s booth at the Winnetka Sidewalk Sale on Friday, July 20.
In celebration of “The Paris Wife”, the library also is hosting a Hemingway-inspired “moveable feast” of Paris Noir jazz and international cuisine on Sunday, July 15.
“I was captivated by the love story between Hadley and Ernest and I knew it would spark a discussion within the community,” said Juli Janovicz, coordinator of “One Book Two Villages” for the Winnetka-Northfield Library District.
“I know I’ve found a good candidate for One Book Two Villages if I can’t get the selection out of my head and I want to share it with everyone I come in contact with around the village.”
Earlier events related to “The Paris Wife” included a discussion of Woody Allen’s feature-length film, “Midnight in Paris”; an appearance by Gioia Dilberto, author of a non-fiction book about Hadley Richardson entitled “Paris Without End”; and a discussion with a local expert on Hemingway.
Launched in 2004, One Book Two Villages is designed to inspire reading and book discussion among adults and young people within the communities of Winnetka and Northfield. This year’s youth selection is “The Young Man and the Sea,” a story of youthful courage by Rodman Philbrick.
Earlier adult selections have included “You Know When the Men Are Gone” by Siobhan Fallon (2011); “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett (2010) and “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen (2007).