The AAUW: Books-Sandwiched-In 2013 series opened March 6 at Joseph & Elizabeth Shaw Public Library with an engaging historical novel of romance. Sharon Gregory shared her passion for the novel The Paris Wife by Paula McClain with a captivated audience of more than 20 people.
Gwen Crandell, AAUW member, introduced the audience to Gregory, a retired instructor with the Central Intermediate Unit. According to Crandell, finding reviewers is often a difficult task because many people love to read but balk at the idea presenting their favorite book to an audience. When Crandell approached Gregory, she enthusiastically agreed and had an idea for a great review.
Gregory, whose retirement allows her to pursue her love of reading, first read The Paris Wife as part of her local book club. At first, she was unsure what the story would be about, and, upon learning it was about author Ernest Hemingway, she believed she would not like the novel. Instead, Gregory discovered a love story she greatly enjoyed about Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley.
According to Gregory’s review, The Paris Wife is a love story of two people who connected immediately. Hadley is a young lady ready for excitement in her life and Ernest Hemingway is a charming, debonair man who wanted to make a name for himself. Gregory stated the prologue of the story made Paris look charming, exciting, romantic and full of people to meet.
Gregory shared that the book is written from Hadley’s viewpoint. In her opinion, the lead female character is charming, caring, a good mother, and a good wife. Hemingway is portrayed as good guy who was obsessed with writing. Because of that profession, Hadley lived a lonely life. Their marriage eventually leads to unfaithfulness and separation, but even at the end of the story, these two characters demonstrate the powerful love that existed between them.
Set during the time of World War I, The Paris Wife is also a story of history. According to Gregory’s review, it is evident that the author did extensive research when writing the book. The novel has a historical setting, as well as other characters in the story that wrote and interacted with Hemingway during his time period.
Gregory discussed several highlights from the novel. At one point, Hemingway lost everything he had written on a train. Despite his anger, Gregory felt he handled it well. She was also fascinated with their lifestyle. The couple spent time in Canada after their baby was born, but eventually returned to Paris. The Hemingway’s often went out and left the baby with a housekeeper. Gregory found it very odd that not only did Hadley know of Ernest’s mistress, the three often traveled together. Hadley, a talented pianist, gave up her aspirations for Ernest. Finally, suicide played a great part in the dynamics of the families. Both Hadley and Ernest had fathers who committed suicide and dominating mothers.
Gregory also discussed several quotes that were memorable to her. In one, Hadley states that there would be “no love without this first one either.” Gregory said that Hadley learned from her first marriage, and it benefited her when remarrying later in life. Gregory also found great meaning in another quote that “books could be an incredible adventure” due to her love of reading.
The review concluded with Gregory sharing with the audience a tool to analyze and scale books. Sharing a few of those categories, Gregory said that in terms of readability, The Paris Wife used colorful language, was easy to read and intriguing, and she was often left wanting to see what happens next. She learned a number of things from reading the novel, including what life in Paris was like, World War I, the “lost generation”, and about other characters in the books, such as Ezra Pound. Lastly, she said that overall the story was very interesting and made her want to explore Hemingway’s work. Her book club gave the book a grade of 4.5 out of 5, which is one of the highest scores their group has awarded.
The Paris Wife is available for checkout or hold at Shaw Public Library.
The next AAUW: Books-Sandwiched-In program will be held at 12 p.m. March 13. Prague Winter: a Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948 by Madeline Albright will be reviewed by Edie Shrot. Based on Albright’s memories, written testimonies from family members, and interviews with contemporaries and other documents, the author recounts a traumatic and inspirational story involving several major events in history.
Crandell invites those interested in future book reviews in the AAUW: Books-Sandwiched-In 2013 series to sign up at the library. Attending a presentation does not require an individual to have read the selected book. The review may entice an audience member to give a new story a try.
Reservations for the AAUW: Books-Sandwiched-In 2013 events may be placed by visiting the front desk of Shaw Public Library or by calling 814-765-3271 during regular business hours. The library is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m., and Fridays from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. Additional information may also be found on Shaw Public Library’s Web site at http://www.clearfield.org/shaw.