Request an author chat for your book club


  1. In many ways, Hadley's girlhood in St. Louis was a difficult and repressive experience. How do her early years prepare her to meet and fall in love with Ernest? What does life with Ernest offer her that she hasn't encountered before? What are the risks?
  2. Hadley and Ernest don't get a lot of encouragement from their friends and family when they decided to marry. What seems to draw the two together? What are some of the strengths of their initial attraction and partnership? The challenges?
  3. The Ernest Hemingway we meet in THE PARIS WIFE—through Hadley's eyes—is in many ways different from the ways we imagine him when faced with the largeness of his later persona. What do you see as his character strengths? Can you see what Hadley saw in him?
  4. The Hemingways spontaneously opt for Paris over Rome when the get key advice from Sherwood Anderson. What was life like for them when they first arrived? How did Hadley's initial feelings about Paris differ from Ernest's and why?
  5. Throughout THE PARIS WIFE, Hadley refers to herself as "Victorian" as opposed to "modern." What are some of the ways she doesn't feel like she fits into life in bohemian Paris? How does this impact her relationship with Ernest? Her self-esteem? What are some of the ways Hadley's "old-fashioned" quality can be seen as a strength and not a weakness?
  6. Hadley and Ernest's marriage survived for many years in Jazz-Age Paris, an environment that had very little patience for monogamy and other traditional values. What in their relationship seems to sustain them? How does their marriage differ from those around them? Pound's and Shakespeare's? Scott and Zelda's?
  7. Most of THE PARIS WIFE is written in Hadley's voice, but a few select passages come to us from Ernest's point of view. What impact does getting Ernest's perspective have on our understanding of their marriage? How does it affect your ability to understand him and his motivations in general?
  8. What was the role of literary spouses in 1920's Paris? How is Hadley challenged and restricted by her gender? Would those restrictions have changed if she had been an artist and not merely a "wife"?
  9. At one point, Ezra Pound warns Hadley that it would be a dire mistake to let parenthood change Ernest. Is there a nugget of truth behind his concern? What are some of the ways Ernest is changed by Bumby's birth? What about Hadley? What does motherhood bring to her life, for better or worse?
  10. One of the most wrenching scenes in the book is when Hadley loses a valise containing all of Ernest's work to date. What kind of turning point does this mark for the Hemingway's marriage? Do you think Ernest ever forgives her?
  11. When the couple moves to Toronto to have Bumby, Ernest tries his best to stick it out with a regular "nine-to-five" reporter's job, and yet he ultimately finds this impossible. Why is life in Toronto so difficult for Ernest? Why does Hadley agree to go back to Paris earlier than they planned, even though she doesn't know how they'll make it financially? How does she benefit from supporting his decision to make a go at writing only fiction?
  12. Hadley and Ernest had similar upbringings in many ways. What are the parallels, and how do these affect the choices Hadley makes as a wife and mother?
  13. In THE PARIS WIFE, when Ernest receives his contract for In Our Time, Hadley says, "He would never again be unknown. We would never again be this happy." How did fame affect Ernest and his relationship with Hadley?
  14. The Sun Also Rises is drawn from the Hemingways' real-life experiences with bullfighting in Spain. Ernest and his friends are clearly present in the book, but Hadley is not. Why? In what ways do you think Hadley is instrumental to the book regardless, and to Ernest's career in general?
  15. How does the time and place—Paris in the 20's—affect Ernest and Hadley's marriage? What impact does the war, for instance, have on the choices and behavior of the expatriate artists surrounding the Hemingways? Do you see Ernest changing in response to the world around him? How, and how does Hadley feel about those changes?
  16. What was the nature of the relationship between Hadley and Pauline Pfeiffer? Were they legitimately friends? How do you see Pauline taking advantage of her intimate position in the Hemingway's life? Do you think Hadley is naïve for not suspecting Pauline of having designs on Ernest earlier? Why or why not?
  17. It seems as if Ernest tries to make his marriage work even after Pauline arrives on the scene. What would Hadley it have cost Hadley to stick it out with Ernest no matter what? Is there a way she could have fought harder for her marriage?
  18. In many ways, Hadley is a very different person at the end of the novel than the girl who encounters Ernest by chance at a party. How do you understand her trajectory and transformation? Are there any ways she essentially doesn't change?
  19. When Hemingway's biographer Carlos Baker interviewed Hadley Richardson near the end of her life, he expected her to be bitter, and yet she persisted in describing Ernest as a "prince." How can she have continued to love and admire him after the way he hurt her?
  20. Ernest Hemingway spent the last months of his life tenderly reliving his first marriage in the pages his memoir, A Moveable Feast. In fact, it was the last thing he wrote before his death. Do you think he realized what he'd truly lost with Hadley?

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All recipes listed here are adapted from The Hemingway Cookbook, by Craig Boreth, and used with permission of the author.

Oysters and Sancerre

OystersPreparing oysters on the half-shell at home is simple but takes some practice. At the market, select shells that are tightly closed, and just before you plan to use them. Store under damp paper towels with the largest side down, so the oysters can rest in their own juices.

When opening an oyster, hold it in one hand (larger side down) and place the tip of an oyster knife or sharp-pointed can opener into a gap in the hinge of the shell and pry shells apart. Once open, move a small knife under the oyster, separating the muscle from the shell. Be careful to retain as much of the oyster's juices in the shell as possible.

Serve on a bed of crushed ice with wedges of lemon or a sauce of minced shallots and white wine vinegar. Allow for at least six oysters per person.

Sancerre is a crisp, dry white wine from the Loire Valley which pairs beautifully with the oysters. Another similar wine, such as Pouilly-Fuiseé, would also work, as would champagne.

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Tea Cakes and Kirsch à la Gertrude Stein

About 36 cakes

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 8 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a saucepan, heat the butter slowly until slightly browned. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Combine 6 of the egg whites in a bowl and stir very slowly with a wooden spoon until completely mixed. This step may take up to 15 minutes. Fold in the flour and mix until perfectly smooth Add the vanilla and heated butter. Beat the 2 remaining egg whites to stiff peaks, then add to the batter.

Lightly butter small muffin tins. Fill halfway with batter and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until pale gold in color. Remove from tins to a cooling rack. In a small saucepan, heat the apricot jam to just boiling. Strain through a fine sieve. Paint the cakes with apricot glaze.

Serve with Kirsch (black-cherry brandy) or any other fruit-flavored brandy, such as pear, plum or peach eaux-de-vie.

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Lunch at Home on the Rue du Cardinal Lemoine*

  • Radishes
  • Foie de Veau à l'Anglaise
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Endive Salad
  • Apple Tart

*In A Moveable Feast, Hemingway comes home from his first visit to Shakespeare and Co., and finds Hadley beginning to prepare this lunch.


In the simple, Parisian style, these radishes are served raw with butter.

2 servings

  • 6 small pink radishes
  • 1 baguette
  • Butter
  • Salt

Wash the radishes in cold water, trimming the root tip and cutting all the leaves to the same length. Pat dry thoroughly on a paper towel. Slice the bread and spread one side of each slice generously with butter. Place 1 radish on each slice, sprinkle with salt to taste, and serve.

To serve the radishes without bread, simply place them in a small bowl, drizzle with melted butter and season to taste.

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Foie de Veau à l'Anglaise

Foie de Veau à l'Anglaise2 servings

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 thin slices of calf's liver, about 1/2 inch thick
  • 4 thin slices of bacon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 lemon

Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat until frothy but not brown. Fry the liver slices quickly, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove the slices to a hot serving platter. Fry the bacon in the same pan to desired doneness. Garnish the liver with bacon, sprinkle on the chopped parsley, squeeze with lemon juice and pour the cooking juices on top. Serve immediately.

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Endive Salad

2 servings

  • 2 endives
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 1/2 cup vinaigrette dressing

Wash the endives thoroughly. Dry. Cut each endive in half length-wise, then cut across into strips. Discard the bottom slice. Arrange each endive on a salad plate, sprinkle with the chives and any simple vinaigrette dressing, and serve.

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Mashed Potatoes

Parisian-style mashed potatoes have a much lighter consistency than those to which most Americans are accustomed. It is essential that you not spare the butter or the milk to reach the consistency of whipped cream in this dish. (This recipe is adapted from the 1923 cookbook Colette's Best Recipes.)

2 servings

  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter, plus have plenty more on hand
  • Salt and Pepper

Wash, peel, quarter and boil the potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain thoroughly, then return to the boiling pot and heat over low heat until completely dry. Remove the potatoes from the pot, and press through a ricer back into the pot (you may also use a masher or hand mixer to mash the potatoes, but I find a ricer works best).

In a small saucepan, heat the milk until very hot. While the milk is warming, add the butter and salt and pepper to taste to the potatoes and stir vigorously. When the milk is hot, place the potatoes over medium heat and add the milk. Whisk the potatoes until they are the consistency of whipped cream. You may need to add more milk or butter to reach this thickness. Simmer the potatoes very gently until they are hot throughout. Serve immediately.

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Apple Tart

Apple Tart1 10-inch Tart

For the Dough

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup ice water

For the Filling

  • 4 baking apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled and cored
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

To make the dough with a food processor, fit the processor with the metal blade. Cut the butter into small pieces and place in the bowl of the food processor. Add the flour and sugar. Blend together until dough just begins to adhere to the sides of the bowl. Add the ice water and continue blending until the dough starts to stick together. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

When the dough has chilled, turn it out onto a floured surface. Roll the dough, lifting and turning a quarter-turn after each roll, to a circle of 1/4–inch thickness. Transfer the dough to a buttered 10-inch tart pan by rolling the dough around the rolling pin and unrolling it onto the pan. Work the dough into the pan, gently lifting to cover the bottom and sides evenly. Fold over any excess and crimp decoratively. Refrigerate the tart shell for at least 30 minutes, or until ready for filling.

When the shell has chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prick the bottom of the shell several times with a fork. Line the surface of the shell with aluminum foil and fill with dry beans to prevent shrinking or heaving. Bake the tart shell for 20 minutes.

To make the filling, cut the apples into thin slices and toss in a bowl with the lemon juice. Arrange the slices in the tart shell in two layers of overlapping, concentric circles, sprinkling half the sugar on each layer. Drizzle the finished tart with melted butter. Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Serve warm.

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Trout Cooked with Cured Ham

4 servings

  • 4 small trout, cleaned
  • Several sprigs mint
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 8 thin slices Serrano, prosciutto, or cured ham
  • 4 generous slices bacon, thickly cut
  • Flour for dusting
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lemon Wedges

Stuff the trout with half the mint, pour wine over, and refrigerate, covered, for 2 hours. Remove the mint and discard. Roll 1 mint leaf inside each slice of the cured ham and stuff 2 rolls inside each fish. Heat the oil in a skillet until hot. Cook the bacon 1 minute on each side, until slightly browned. Remove the bacon from the pan and reserve, leaving the grease. Roll the fish in flour to lightly coat. Increase the heat and fry the fish in the bacon grease and oil for 10 minutes for each inch of thickness, turning once. After turning, place 1 slice bacon on each fish. Serve the fish whole with the bacon on top. Garnish with mint leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with lemon wedges.

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French-fried Potatoes (Pommes de Terre Frites)

Pommes de Terre Frites4 servings

  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Wash, peel, and cut the potatoes into strips of 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. Place the strips in a bowl of cold water until ready for frying. Pour the oil into a deep fryer. If you do not have a deep fryer, use a large saucepan and wire basket to hold the potatoes. You may also simply place the potatoes in the oil and remove with a slotted spoon, but a wire basket makes the process much easier. Heat the oil to approx. 350 degrees F. Dry the potatoes completely and gently lower them into the oil. Fry until just before the potatoes turn golden, about 10 minutes. Remove the potatoes and drain. Heat the oil to the smoking point, replace the potatoes, and fry until gold brown and crisp, 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Discuss The Paris Wife with your book club and enjoy these Hemingway inspired recipes while you chat.

The Hemingway

The HemingwayIngredients:

  • red grapes
  • 1 part Pernod Absinthe
  • 1 dash sweet vermouth
  • squeeze of lime
  • 1 dash simple syrup
  • orange juice


  • Muddle six or seven grapes.
  • Add ice and spirits.
  • Shake and strain into an ice-filled highball glass
  • Top with orange juice and garnish with fresh grapes

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Biffi's Fruit Cup*

4 servings

  • 3 peaches, pitted and cut into bite-sized slices
  • 2 cups wild strawberries, hulled, or very small regular strawberries, halved
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
  • 2 cups of Capri, or other dry white wine

Combine the fruit in a bowl. Sprinkle with sugar, then pour the wine over the fruit. Mix the ingredients together gently. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Pour the furt and wine into a tall glass pitcher and serve in a large bowl surrounded with crushed ice.

*from The Hemingway Cookbook, by Craig Boreth, and used with permission of the author.

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Death in the Afternoon

  • 1 1/2 oz. Absinthe or Pernod
  • 4 oz. Brut champagne

Hemingway contributed this recipe to a celebrity cocktail book in 1935. His instructions are as follows:

"Pour one jigger absinthe into a champagne glass. Add iced champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly."

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Hemingway Daiquiri

  • 1 1/2 oz. light rum
  • 3/4 oz. grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 oz. Maraschino liqueur
  • 3/4 oz. simple syrup
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice

Shake the ingredients in a shaker with plenty of ice until very cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

*This isn't really a "daiquiri," since it's neither frozen nor frou-frou. It is, however, completely delicious.

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Fine à l'eau

  • 1 oz. Cognac
  • 3 oz. seltzer or Perrier

Combine ingredients in a tumbler or snifter. Generally served without ice.

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Hot Rum Punch*

Hot Rum Punch

  • 1 3/4 cups dark rum
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 6 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups boiling water

Combine all ingredients except 1/2 cup rum in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Transfer the punch to a ceramic pitcher. Taste to verify insufficient volume of rum. Add remaining rum. Serve immediately.

*from The Hemingway Cookbook, by Craig Boreth, and used with permission from the author.

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Kirsch and Champagne

  • 1 1.2 oz. Kirsch or other fruit-flavored brandy
  • Champagne or Prosecco

Pour into a fluted glass and stir lightly or not at all (to preserve bubbles).

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Vermouth and Cassis

  • 3 oz. French vermouth
  • 1.2 oz. creme de cassis
  • club soda or seltzer to taste

Pour the vermouth and crème de cassis into a highball glass, then add 2 or 3 ice cubes and top off with club soda or seltzer to taste.

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St. Germaine Cocktail

St. Germaine Cocktail

  • 2 oz. St. Germaine liqueur
  • 2 oz. dry white wine, Champagne or Prosecco
  • 2-3 oz. of club soda

Add the ingredients to an ice-filled highball glass, stir well to mix and garnish with lemon twist or fresh strawberries or blackberries. You might also muddle blackberries before adding ice and ingredients, which has a very pretty effect.

*St. Germaine is made from elderflowers. Delicate, with subtle fruit and citrus notes, it's delicious and smells heavenly.

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