Paula McLain is an American novelist born in 1965 in Fresno, California. As a child, she suffered the abuse of neglectful parents and therefore switched in and out of multiple foster homes. When she turned 18, she started to support herself by taking on odd jobs, including a pizza deliverer and a cocktail waitress. However, she soon discovered her passion for literature and decided to enroll at the University of Michigan to study poetry. McLain’s debut book entitled Like Family, Growing up in Other People’s Houses is a memoir that details her experiences in the foster care system and how it made her a more resilient, empathetic individual.
In 2011, McLain published a fictional novel, The Paris Wife, which tells the story of acclaimed author Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley Richardson in 1920s Paris. Although it is a fictionalized love story, many details of their romance are taken from actual accounts of their marriage. Several other famous novelists make an appearance in the book as well, such as Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein.
Upon its publication, The Paris Wife garnered rave reviews for its heartwarming portrayal of Hemingway and his lover, Hadley. It was a New York Times bestseller, won Best Historical Fiction Book in the Goodreads Choice Awards, and was named one of the Best Books of the Year by Kirkus Reviews. Rachel Collins of Library Journal praises McLain for “stringing together shards of childhood memories to create a portrait as riveting as it is sad.” Since The Paris Wife, Paula McLain was written one other novel entitled Circling the Sun, a historical fiction story that takes place in 1920s Kenya.