Back in January, I read Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler. (You can read my review here.) Z is an historical fiction novel told from the point of view of Zelda, the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald (who wrote novels, among them the well-known The Great Gatsby). After I finished, I was told by a few friends that I also needed to read Paula McLain's The Paris Wife, which is an historical fiction told from the point of view of Hadley, the first wife of Ernest Hemingway (who wrote classics such as The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms).
Of the two books--Z and Paris Wife--I liked the former slightly better, although I gave both 4 stars on Goodreads. Both were quick, interesting reads that I would recommend to fans of historical fiction. I think maybe the preference of book just depends on which one you read first. (In case you were wondering, Paris Wife was published first in 2011. Z was published in 2013.)
I would also say that Z was more interesting just because Zelda was a more interesting narrator. Hadley seemed quieter and kept to herself a lot more, so it didn't feel like there was as much drama.
It was especially interesting to read this book after reading Z.
Ernest Hemingway makes more of a consistent appearance in Zelda's narration than F. Scott does in Hadley's, which seemed a bit contradictory at first, but I guess the difference is probably because Zelda had more of a "relationship" with Ernest than Hadley did with F. Scott.
We know from history that Zelda Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway did not like each other, but Ernest comes off as much more of a drunken womanizer in Z than he did in Paris Wife. In fact, for most of the latter, I liked Ernest Hemingway quite a bit, which is not what I was expecting. Again, this is probably due to the narrator bias. I came off of reading Z thinking Ernest Hemingway was a terrible person, and throughout The Paris Wife and even now while reading A Moveable Feast, I'm finding myself thinking, "I kind of like Ernest Hemingway."
One of the Reader Questions at the end of Paris Wife mentions that even after their marriage had ended and up until the end of her life, Hadley continued to call Ernest "a prince." Ernest clearly was a cheating womanizer and a drunk, but she continues to love and support him to the best of her ability, which is at once admirable and annoying. Sometimes I just wanted to shake her and say, "Stand up for yourself, woman!"
On Monday, I went right to the downtown library on my lunch break to check out Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. This is the last thing Ernest Hemingway wrote before his suicide in 1961 and is a memoir about the years 1921-1926, which is when he was married to Hadley and also the years focused on in The Paris Wife. I'm almost finished, and I'm enjoying it quite a bit. This is such a fun time period!
Here's my favorite quote so far from A Moveable Feast:
"I thought of [Gertrude] Stein and egotism and mental laziness versus discipline, and I thought who is calling who a lost generation? I thought that all generations were lost by something and always had been and always would be."
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Anne Fowler
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Have you read either Z or The Paris Wife? Which did you like better?
Have you read A Moveable Feast?
Have you read A Moveable Feast?