Friday, August 31, 2012

The Paris Wife

I've always loved fiction and poetry which gives voice to interesting, often voiceless, historical characters and imagines their most private lives.  So it's no surprise that I enjoyed Paula McLain's The Paris Wife:  a story told from the perspective of Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway's first wife.  Though written as fiction, the author does her research and mostly accurately traces the lives of this couple from their first meeting, through their time in Paris, and long after their divorce.  There's a lot here that's spot on, and that makes the fictional intricacies of their story all the more believable.  McLain imagines all that we may not glean from biographies, letters and interviews:  the interior monologues, the feelings, the juxtaposition of a solid, supportive woman living in Paris with a man as temperamental and eccentric as Ernest Hemingway.  Enjoyable and engaging, even for those who know nothing of the great American author.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fall Fiction Preview

Kirkus Reviews recently revealed its 2012 Fall Fiction Preview

Beautiful Ruins

Beach reading doesn't get much better than Jess Walter's playful literary genius.  And his newest novel, Beautiful Ruins, serves to feed the escapist, gossip, and dreamer in all of us.

The story begins in 1962 in a resort town along the Italian Rivera. Young hotel entrepreneur, Pasquale, hosts a beautiful American actress named Dee on hiatus from her filming of Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.  As it turns out, Dee is pregnant with Burton's baby, and one Hollywood agent, Michael Deane, tries his best to keep that fact hidden from the world.  From this point onward, the novel moves seamlessly between the past and present day, weaving together the stories of these (and other) characters as they progress through their lives and their art.  Walter's writing is sharp, and his storytelling original.  Highly recommended.