I just finished reading a book for my book club called The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. It’s the story of Hadley Richardson, Hemingway’s first wife, how they met, married, and how the marriage ended. It’s not my typical reading material, and that’s what I love (and hate) about this book club. It pushes me to read books I would otherwise never pick up, and a lot of the time I agree with that first inclination.
I enjoyed The Paris Wife. It was engaging and well-written and I have a connection to Hemingway because my mother was born in Oak Park, IL, and my grandparents knew Hemingway’s father. The book is touted as being quite accurate, as far as these sorts of books go, but I’m sure that doesn’t mean every line is exactly what Hadley Richardson thought. And even though I am an author I find myself much more sympathetic to Hadley than I am to Ernest. He tends to exhibit what we would now label as “diva behavior.”
But there is one paragraph about Ernest Hemingway I could totally relate to. It really does sum up what so many of us love about being a writer. Here it is.
“I couldn’t reach into every part of Ernest and he didn’t want me to. He needed me to make him feel safe and backed up, yes, the same way I needed him. But he also liked that he could disappear into his work, away from me. And return when he wanted to.”
I remember when my daughter was a newborn and she never (or so it felt) slept or stopped crying, and I was exhausted and the days went in slow motion, the thing that saved me as I rocked her endlessly was being able to escape in my mind. I plotted much of The Rogue Pirate’s Bride walking and rocking that baby. I’m not a plotter, but I needed to go somewhere else besides that dark nursery and that wailing infant.
And still, when tragedies that don’t touch me occur, I escape into writing. On the day of the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, CT, like many of you, I was saddened and horrified. I sat and watched the news reports coming in, each one more surreal than the last. When I couldn’t take any more, I turned off the TV and internet and escaped into my work in progress. Regency England and the world of my own making could sweep me away for a time. I could return when I wanted.
What about you? How do you “escape”? Christmas is over, but I’ll give one person who comments a choice of one of my recent books–The Making of a Duchess, The Making of a Gentleman, Lord and Lady Spy, The Rogue Pirate’s Bride, or When You Give a Duke a Diamond.