This certainly wasn't the most amazing book I've ever read. I could pick apart the characters (which were flat and uninteresting--and, in some cases, difficult to relate to), or the plot (which was generally predictable, though I was pleased to find myself surprised by a few details), but that feels like it would take too much effort to be worth the trouble. After all, this book isn't even masquerading as great literature. It is what it set out to be: a thriller to entertain the masses. Something fun to read when you want nothing more than to allow your whole self--brain as well as body--to relax and unwind.
And it did entertain me. It kept me reading. This was a sort of murder mystery. It takes place in 1998, though frequently the reader is taken back 18 years to uncover the details of a plane crash in the French Alps in 1980. As you can see from the book's cover, all of the plane's passengers died except for a baby girl. Only problem is, there had been two baby girls on the plane, and no one can prove the identity of the surviving baby.
The only other thing I can think to say is that it was slightly surreal to hear about the Germanwings crash that occurred in the French Alps as I was reading this book . . .
I've read an embarrassingly small number of Hemingway's works. If I remember right, I haven't gotten beyond A Farewell to Arms (which I loved, and which broke my heart) and The Old Man and the Sea (which was simple and powerful, though I found it slightly less absorbing). After reading The Paris Wife, I'm definitely adding the following to my TBR: The Sun Also Rises (the one about watching bullfighting in Pamplona) and In Our Time (a collection of short stories), both of which were written while Hemingway was married to his "Paris wife"; and A Moveable Feast, a posthumously-published memoir of his Paris years.
But Hemingway's writing was not the focus of The Paris Wife. Of course, writing was a major part of Hemingway's life, and Hemingway was a major character in this book. But the book is narrated by Hemingway's first wife, Hadley Richardson, and though the formation of several of his major works looms large in the background, the core of the book is their marriage: its birth, five years of ups and downs, and its sad, slow strangulation and death.
This book paints a fascinating portrait of the glittering literary circles found in 1920s Paris, touching on the Hemingways' friendships with the likes of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein, but all of that is just the landscape behind the story of Ernest and Hadley's doomed marriage. Hemingway, unsurprisingly, lives large and lives intensely, and it's his desire to Have It All which drives their relationship to destruction. It was really kind of agonizing to watch its unraveling in the pages of this book.
When I first heard about The History of History, I told my husband it sounded like "our kind of book." Several years later, I've finally read it and found that I was right, but I'm going to be lazy and direct you here instead of describing the story to you in my own words. (I don't think I can improve upon Greg's post.) Now, please excuse me so I may continue feeling haunted.