Book Reviews

Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood

18114165[1]“Told in four parts and based on real love letters and telegrams, Mrs. Hemingway reveals the explosive love triangles that wrecked each of Hemingway’s marriages.

Spanning 1920s bohemian Paris through 1960s Cold War America, populated with members of the fabled “Lost Generation,” Mrs. Hemingway is a riveting tale of passion, love, and heartbreak.” ~Goodreads

Let me start by saying that I LOOOVED this book by Naomi Wood and one that kept me captivated from beginning to end this year. It’s a mere 336 pages and written in fours parts from the points of view of Hemingway’s four wives: Hadley, Fife, Martha and Mary. I also must add that I am so glad that I read this book first before reading any other Hemingway fictionalized novels like Hemingway’s Girl, The Paris Wife or even the biography, Paris Without End. That’s not because there is a sort of order to reading books about Hemingway but because I feel it gave a great overview of his relationships, demeanor, tortured yet brilliant mind and struggle to find his place in life. This book made me want to read other books pertaining to him and even delve into that era of the roaring 20s.

Yes, I cringed many times and wanted to strangle him and his wives throughout the book but I also empathized with the characters as a whole and didn’t dwell on isolated incidents of infidelity. Instead of wanting to shut the book screaming, I longed to read more.

The turning point for me in the book was the chapter about Martha, his third and very independent wife. She saw in him what the other three didn’t. (Or maybe they didn’t want to see). While he was a brilliant writer, passionate lover and had a zest for life, he was a tortured soul and couldn’t really think of anyone but himself. He also had a real fear of being alone and made sure he never was. She was the only wife who left him and basically said “enough is enough”.

“He is so good at being in love that Ernest Hemingway makes a rotten husband.”

“But there could never be two people at the close of his marriage. No, she thinks, a little bitterly; it always had to end on a three-card winner.”

While I was reading this book, I also had some lengthy driving time on my hands once a week so I downloaded the audio version from my library, which I think enhanced the experience even more. The end of the print book has a plethora of additional reading suggestions and websites to further add to your TBR list. I must thank Shannon from River City Reading for recommending this book. She was right as usual and so I too, am recommending it to you!


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