Meet Ernest & Hadley Big Read Introduces Fans to a Young Hemingway with 'The Paris Wife'
Writing a historic novel is somewhat like connecting dots of history with lines to create a picture.
"That is a nice way of thinking about it," said national best-selling author [URL]Paula McLain;http://www.lislelibrary.org/[/URL].
From a coffee shop near her home in Cleveland, Ohio, McLain talked about her book "The Paris Wife," the current Big Read selection for 10 area libraries.
For the eighth year, the [URL]Lisle Library;http://www.lislelibrary.org/[/URL] is joining forces with libraries in Clarendon Hills, Downers Grove, Hinsdale, Darien, LaGrange, LaGrange Park, Western Springs, Westmont and Woodridge to encourage patrons to read the same book. This year's selection gives readers opportunities to learn about the roaring 1920s, Paris, Spain, jazz and author Ernest Hemingway.
McLain began her writing career with two collections of poetry, an autobiographical book about her childhood in foster care and the novel "A Ticket to Ride."
The former high school English teacher said extensive research went into writing "The Paris Wife."
While searching for a possible book subject, McLain read "A Moveable Feast" in which [URL]Ernest Hemingway;http://www.ernest.hemingway.com/[/URL] wrote of his first wife, Hadley, "I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her."
The straightforward sentence tickled McLain's curiosity and she began to research the period of time in the early 1920s when Hemingway met and married Hadley Richardson Hemingway, followed by the young couple's years in Paris and the birth of their son.
"I did not know anything about (Ernest's) personal life beyond the mythology of Hemingway," McLain said. "I think that helped a great deal because I had no agenda in him. So when I began to write the book, I could let Hadley show me the way without trying to exonerate him or take him down."
McLain did much of her research at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum with its extensive Hemingway collection. On the museum's website, jfklibrary.org, an audio of Patrick Hemingway, Ernest's second son, said his father's letters are chatty and full of vivid details.
McLain found the subject of her book "The Paris Wife" when she read hundreds of letters between Hadley and Ernest Hemingway. This was the history she built her novel around.
"My story begins when Hadley and Ernest meet in Chicago at a party for the first time," McLain said. "My job then began by projecting myself into all the places that no biographer could ever presume to know. For instance, what did they say to each other, or what did they think about this first meeting, which became the challenge and the pleasure of writing the book."
To write as fast as she could, McLain left her teaching job. With $600 in the bank and young children to care for, she could not travel to all the destinations captured in the novel. …