I’m a fool for anything about Ernest Hemingway. I can’t honestly say I really even like him as a person but, I love reading about his life and his family, and all the places he helped to make famous.
MRS. HEMINGWAY by Naomi Wood is a slip of a novel. It caught me unaware. I wasn’t sure there was possibly any other information to read or learn about these errant wives. But, alas, woven among the chapters, little snippets brought to life.
Naomi Wood has managed to bring us a new and unique novel featuring the lives of Ernest Hemingway’s four wives. The story is told in all four voices. I should say five since Ernest’s voice is very much alive here.
Hadley Richardson, Pauline Pfeiffer, Martha Gellhorn, and Mary Welsh all have one thing in common: each has been married to Ernest Hemingway and share his name.
From the summer of 1926 when Ernest and Hadley vacation in the south of France, to the tropical paradise of Key West, Florida, to the jungle-like atmosphere of Cuba, to the wilds of Ketchum, Idaho. Each locale becomes a character and plays a part in this epic story that has kept America hostage for all these years.
It’s almost as if Wood was a fly on the wall, she has so captured the ambience, the compulsive behavior, the excess, the slow losing of sanity, and the sense of family between these women.
We wonder how Hadley and Fife ( Pauline) could have carried on a friendship even after Fife stole Ernest away. And yet, even toward the end, Fife and Mary are involved in a friendship. They all so loved Ernest even though he didn’t treat them well. They were all battered wives, they just didn’t know it at the time.
I don’t know exactly what draws me to this world. I do know I’ve visited the Hemingway House in Key West, Florida many times. I am fascinated with and by it. I have always been tickled by the six-toed cats. I’ve even taken some photos of the cats over the years. But it intrigues me; that house. I like to stand at the end of the long pool that Pauline had built with what Ernest said was his last cent. And I think what parties they must have had. And then I think how sad a house it actually was. And the heat. No air conditioning existed when they lived in this house. And it gets hot in Key West. But, still, it is enchanting.
What I will say is that Naomi Wood has done a helluva job portraying the lives of these five people. Just when I thought I’d read as much as I possibly could about Hemingway and his life….along came Naomi! And, thankfully so!
Thanks to Penguin Books for my copy. I am so glad to have discovered this fine novel. I look forward to more books by Naomi Wood.