Friday, November 4, 2011

Book Club at Melba's - The Paris Wife

Last month I joined a book club for the first time in my life.  I resisted before because even though I read all the time, I wanted to be sure I joined one that had lots of intelligent discussion and not just eating and socializing.  I think I have found it!

Last month we read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  Most everyone really liked it except me.  I had to force myself to read even 80 pages of it and then I allowed myself to stop.  It is a true story about a WWII POW's life from birth to now - he is still living.  He wasn't a very likable character in his youth, though he redeems himself as a POW and later in life.  I thought it was a huge waste of my time, but then, I am not lover of war novels.  Many of the group enjoyed learning more about the war in the Pacific theater, as most of what they knew happened in Europe.

This month's was much, much better.  It was The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, which is about Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley Richardson.  (I love the name "Hadley" and now wish I had named my Holleigh, Hadley.  Do you think she'll consider changing it at age 34?)  Though it is a fictional account of their five years together, it is based on much research and imbued with fact.  If you liked the movie Midnight in Paris from this past summer, you will probably like this book.

Our group was split about in half regarding if they liked it or not.  Some wanted more action and some just detested Ernest Hemingway as a person for how badly he treated his first wife emotionally.  One disliked Ernest so much, that she said she was never going to read another thing by him.  Those of us who liked it, really liked it, including me.

It is written in Hadley's voice and from her point of view.  A Movable Feast was Ernest's take on that particular time in their lives.  We all agreed that Hadley was his rock and possible mother figure - always taking care of him, even at her own expense.  One dominating theme - they drank A LOT, and so did all of their friends. 

Speaking of their friends, part of the enjoyment of the book for me were the frequent mentions of the literary and artistic stars of 1920s Paris - from F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, to Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, among many others.  It really was a grand time to live in Paris.  I wish I could be like Owen Wilson's character in Midnight in Paris and be transported back to that time for a few hours and really see and hear what these artistic geniuses were like in person.  Now that would be divine....

Birdie Lape, Melba Jimenez, and Cindy Balliette

Gila Meriwether, Laura Shukovsky, and Kim Cornetet

Christine Winsler and Kim Cornetet (missing is Dara Thompson who arrived later)

Melba's delish brunch offerings.

A trough inset in the counter top to hold ice and cold foods - how handy!

Melba's front door decorated for fall.

Hanging tree lanterns across the drive, which Melba's husband, Cucho has made.

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