Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood is a fictional account of each of Ernest Hemingway’s four wives, spanning from the wild years of Paris in the 1920’s to Hemingway’s death in Idaho in the 1960’s. Hadley Richardson, Pauline Pfeiffer, Martha Gellhorn and Mary Walsh all thought they were the one and only Mrs. Hemingway, and that their love would be enough to keep him forever. They were all wrong.
(This book goes perfectly with a small coffee shop, Hemingway style. )
I will admit that I am completely obsessed with the literary Paris of the 1920’s, Midnight in Paris is one of my favorite movies, and The Paris Wife and Z are two of my favorite novels about that time period. When I started seeing this book on other blogs, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I devoured half of it in one sitting, and couldn’t wait to find out more about Martha and Mary, who I knew the least about.
My favorite section was Hadley’s, and not just because hers is the Paris section. The back of the book has a reader’s guide with all kind of questions, one of which is, In your opinion which of the four women is the true Mrs. Hemingway? For me this is hands down Hadley. She was the first and stayed by Hemingway’s side even after the marriage ended. She was the one who got the shortest end of the stick: she didn’t fit in with the “literary elite,” but she remained true to herself through the whole ordeal.
My one complaint about this book was that it could have been longer. I think The Paris Wife worked so well because it focused on just Hadley and that part of their life. Each woman could have had (and probably do) an entire book just about them. I can’t tell you why I love Hemingway as much as I do. I haven’t read all of his writing, and yes, he wasn’t the best to his wives, but something kept them coming all through his life.
I recently ordered a nonfiction book on this topic, Paris a Without End and I can’t wait to have the real account of their lives together! If you have any interest in Hemingway or Paris of the 1920s, you should definitely scope out Mrs. Hemingway!