Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Staff Pick - Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood

Naomi Wood has written a captivating novel about Hemingway and the women who adored him.

The novel Mrs. Hemingway is based on the lives of Ernest Hemingway and his four wives, Hadley Richardson, Pauline Pfeiffer (“Fife’’), Martha Gellhorn, and Mary Welsh.

Woods uses the third-person narration to show the perspectives of all four women. Each of Ernest's four wives has a voice. The novel is divided into four parts: each from the perspective of a different wife: Hadley, Fife, Martha and Mary tell their own story. Fife's story is my favourite. She was married to Ernest Hemingway for twelve years and they had two sons. Fife has the greatest lines about love and loss: “What a pull he has! What magnetism! Women jump off balconies and follow him into wars. Women turn their eyes from an affair, because a marriage of three is better than a woman alone”.

I found it interesting how at first the mistress was the enemy and then in the next chapter I felt bad for her because now she was the next wife.

The settings, the Antibes and Paris, Cuba and Key West, come alive and the characters are realistic: you see Ernest Hemingway not only as a mystical, larger-than-life personality but as a real man.

‘When I ask Naomi Wood what Ernest Hemingway would make of her new novel, Mrs Hemingway, quick as a flash she replies: “Oh my! He would be a) rolling in his grave and then b) he’d grab his shotgun and come and hunt me down. Oh yes, he would have absolutely hated it.” – from Historical Novels Review.

It was a very interesting read. Now I want to read The Paris Wife, reread several Hemingway’s works, and, especially, A Movable Feast.

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