This month Virago joined forces with the Society of Young Publishers for our Book Club. On 5 March we all piled up to the 5th View Bar at Waterstones Piccadilly and were delighted to see lots of SYP members, all there to discuss The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.
Everyone loved the book but we were very much split down the middle in terms of how we responded to Ernest. Is he a ‘bad’ man and do we judge him for what he puts Hadley through? Alex Higson, who organises the book club, felt that she couldn’t forgive Ernest. He had gone through some terrible things during the First World War, and she felt that he was so much more experience than Hadley that it wasn’t a fair match. Book Clubber Rosy agreed, but added that perhaps it was Hadley’s very innocence that he was attracted to. While Gemma thought that Ernest was probably suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – something that wasn’t recognised in the 1920s, and which may, in part, explain some of his behaviour.
The conversation then moved on to Hadley. Some people felt she was quite passive while others felt that she did what she could in the circumstances – an American woman in Paris with a young son and no job prospects would have found it difficult to manage alone. Virago Marketing Manager Stephen Dumughn said that author Paula McLain felt that Hadley was a product of her time, and it wouldn’t be fair to put modern day judgements on her. All agreed that the last third of the book was heart-breaking, and the behaviour of the ‘other woman’ was psychologically fascinating – and very disturbing!
SYP members were also pleased to be shown the bound proof that we brought along. Some of you may remember it – we printed before the publication of the hardback in early 2011. It included two gorgeous postcards of Hadley, Ernest and the ‘other woman’. We won’t give away who that is . . .
Thanks to everyone at the SYP for coming along to discuss the book and for making it such a lively conversation!
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