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Balance Book Club: Mrs. Hemingway

  • April 11, 2016
  • By Brittany
Balance Book Club: Mrs. Hemingway

It’s been a hot minute since I did a Balance Book Club.  Basically I only got about 25% of the way done through the book before I went to book club because it got moved up a week.  I then never bothered to finish it!

This month we are back on track.  This month’s book is Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood.

mrs hemingway

We all know Ernest Hemingway as the famed author of books like The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms.  What maybe you don’t know about Ernest Hemingway was that he was a serious ladies’ man!  He had four (4!) wives.  Mrs. Hemingway shifts the focus away from Ernest as the main character and instead focuses on each of his four wives.

Each section of the book focuses on one wife specifically at the time when she was losing Ernest to the next wife or, in the case of his last wife, to his death.  You then see snips of each Mrs. Hemingway and Ernests’ relationship through flashbacks.

While obviously this is a work of fiction so although it is based on facts, the actual story line is fictionalized for our reading pleasure.  However, I was interested to learn a little more of the personalities of each of Ernests’ wives.  They were all very different.  Hadley being meek and seemingly undeserving of Ernest, Fife being head over heels worshipper of Ernest, Martha feeling too good to be his wife and more career driven and finally, Mary seeming the most like his equal.

One of the things that struck me in the novel was that his wives actually remained friends.  The most surprising friendship being that between Hadley (wife #1) and Fife (wife #2) despite the fact that Fife basically stole Ernest right from under Hadley’s nose while the three vacationed together no less!

What you didn’t learn from the book was much about Ernest Hemingway aside from the fact that he was a drunk and a womanizer and committed suicide at the end.  The novel was far more focused on the women.  Although because there were so many wives and so many divorces, you really didn’t get a great sense of each relationship and sometimes it is difficult to realize exactly how long each relationship lasted.

What I did love about the book was that it made me curious!  I immediately wanted to look up these women, see photos of them and find out more.  These people actually existed!

Overall, it was a strong book that gave color to a notable number of wives for any one person.  I finished it wanting a little more but it would probably have made the book far too long.

Readers, what is the last good book you read?  Did you know Hemingway had four wives?

By Brittany, April 11, 2016
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  • Dave
    April 11, 2016

    Yes, I knew he had four wives. He was considered to be eccentric at the very least, as I recall. The last good book that I read was a Corvette manual. It is way cool. Also, I will TRY to the flexibility class!

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