Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood

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 Ernest Hemingway was unusual not in the number of women he loved, but in the number of women he wanted to marry: Hadley Richardson, the generous, homely older woman; Pauline Pfeiffer, the rich society vamp; Martha Gellhorn, the restless long-legged war correspondent and Mary Welsh, the adoring journalist who took the risky step of giving up her own career to become the fourth and last Mrs Hemingway.

Each new wife believes that she alone can provide the requisite mixture of comfort and excitement needed to redeem Hemingway, but only Mary Welsh succeeds in retaining the Mrs Hemingway title until his death. Arguably, by this stage Hemingway is too drunk, depressive and irascible to convince any of his new conquests to marry him. But in Wood’s portrait he has also found the complete and restful love he craved for years.

The Clapham Reading group were somewhat divided in their opinions:- the majority finding various anachronisms irritating, the editing leaving much to be desired, and the rather problematic device of ‘fiction’ based on fact hard to reconcile.  The minority, possibly with more of an interest in Ernest Hemingway, were reasonably entertained, but left wondering if the characters of the four wives could have been given a little more depth.

Sara, Clapham Library Reading Group

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