I read and enjoyed The Paris Wife by Paula McLain over the summer. It was such a poignant story and so full of famous names and gorgeous places that the whole thing stuck with me. I took notice of a biography of Hadley Hemingway called Paris Without End - The True Story of Hemingway’s First Wife by Gioia Diliberto and decided I wanted to read it, too.
Paris Without End is a splendid biography. While reading it, I was struck (looking back) by how closely the novel had followed the story of Hadley’s life. In some ways, I felt the books were so similar I didn’t need to have read both. The biography does have some more detailed information, but some of the interpretation began to get a bit repetitive. And while the story is compelling, it wasn’t as emotionally gripping for me as the novel. Nevertheless, Hadley’s personality is well demonstrated. As far as the famous husband– while his faults are evident, the author balances this with Hadley’s generous and loving explanations for his behavior. She forgives him so I suppose I have to. He’s not a likeable character, but he had his own demons.
If you’re interested in Hemingway’s first wife and his Paris years, I can recommend both books. If you prefer nonfiction, try Paris Without End. If you’d rather read a novel, pick up a copy of The Paris Wife.