Why Would Anyone Read That?

Remember the scene in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’, when Bradley Cooper went a bit crazy after he finished reading Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms”, resulting in him throwing the book through a closed window? I read two books in rapid succession that left me feeling that way. They shared a theme; how creative, arrogant, selfish men, most disappointed a woman in their lives. These books are based on real people and real events. Both were New York Times Best Sellers.

The first one I read was “Loving Frank”, written by Nancy Horan.
I believe that I read this book with no foreknowledge of Frank Lloyd Wright other than his prairie and mission style architecture, of which I am a fan.

The lover of Frank is Mamah Borthwick Cheney. She and Frank were both married to other people, with children when their affair began in 1907. The book paints Wright as an arrogant selfish man, and Mamah as a woman ahead of her time in her free thinking, who suffers greatly in her decision to stay with Wright.

The second book was ironically about Hemingway, “The Paris Wife”, written by Paula McLain. Prior to reading this book, Ernest Hemingway in my mind was romantic idea more than a real person. This book shines a 100 watt bulb on that romantic idea, which pretty much kills the romance.

Hadley Richardson was Hemingway’s first wife, the Paris wife, eight years his senior. The Paris in this novel is 1920’s Paris, infested with writers, musicians and artists such as: Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound. They live in a somewhat companionable drunken stupor until Hemingway finds someone else.

In both books, I found the writing beautiful. In both books the main characters were arrogant selfish geniuses. In both books I found the main female characters frustrating because of the choices they made. Both books left me feeling hopeless and despondent, because both end tragically.

Why would I read a book that makes me feel that way? Because a friend who knows how much I love historic fiction thought that these books would be right up my alley. She was wrong.

I don’t need a book to have a happy ending, but I hated these books. To quote Bradley Cooper in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ – “Stupid fucking book!”

Aug 13, 2014
Matters of Taste
When was the last time a movie, a book, or a television show left you cold despite all your friends (and/or all the critics) raving about it? What was it that made you go against the critical consensus?


16 thoughts on “Why Would Anyone Read That?

  1. Ugh. I bought ‘The Paris Wife’ a few months ago and was settling in to read it shortly. You are the only one I know who has read it so I really appreciate your review.


  2. OK. So I have been out of town for a week and brought the book with me to read on the plane. Lydia–I could not put this book down–I loved it! Yes, Hadley had way too many insecurities but so did Hemingway. Surprising how they each handled that part of their personality. I felt a bit more depressed with each chapter I read and cried at the end, but I was so happy for her that she finally found peace. I thought the book was so well written. Oh that bitch Pauline. Way to be a friend, honey! Now I am pulling out my old Hemingway books so I can reread them.


    1. I’m glad I didn’t discourage you from reading it. It was a beautifully written book. Now are you going to read Loving Frank? I think it was reading them both back to back that got to me.


      1. That book doesn’t interest me. I’ve always been a Hemingway fan, though, and yes, I think reading them back to back might have been a bit much.
        Let me know what you’re gonna read next. I have ‘Papa’ by Gregory Hemingway on the table now. Wouldn’t you know I had a newspaper clipping inside the book. He was Pauline’s son. He died in jail in 2001 at age 69.


  3. Second time I’ve read your review but I don’t think I commented before. Very good review, Lydia. Well, actually it’s a bad review (from the point of view of those written about) but well written and interesting! Ha. I concur with what you say about both men, but if you are ever in Phoenix area, the tour of Wright’s house is one of the best tours I’ve ever been on. I’m not even crazy about the house, but the tour guides are excellent and I really enjoyed the tour. Judy


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