A Year In Books

Hadley and Ernest Hemingway

For the last couple of week, I’ve been reading Paris Without End by Gioia Diliberto. It’s the true story of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson. I am a massive fan of Hemingway’s writing and was very intrigued to learn more about his first wife, but what started out as an interest turned into a full blown love. This is one of my absolute favorite books I’ve read this year and not just because the story is so good, but because it was written with such sympathy and insight.

One of the most interested things I learned reading this book was that Hadley was such an inspiration in Hemingway’s writing. The more you learn about Hadley, the more you see her in some of his most famous female characters. In so many ways, Hadley represented the perfect woman to Hemingway- her naturalness, her strength of character, and her complete devotion to him. The life they created together was so beautiful, so full of love and joy. When they were together, it seemed as if they were one person instead of two and Hemingway drew extensively from that to create some of his most romantic couples. Hadley not only inspired him, she encouraged his writing and supported them both financially for the first years of their marriage. She never minded being poor, as long as Hemingway was writing, and write Hemingway did. Some of his best work, and certainly the work that defined his voice, was written while he was married to Hadley.

Of course, we all know how things ended between them. Hemingway fell in love with another woman, cheated on Hadley, and then left her and their son Bumby (Jack). It was very difficult for me to read these parts. Not only because I felt heartbroken for Hadley (she loved him through all of it), but also because it’s very difficult to reconcile the disdain you feel for one of your writing icons actions with the brilliance of their work. At some points, I never wanted to read Hemingway again (That would show him!). But, that’s certainly not what Hadley would want. She always loved him and supported him, even after their divorce, and for his part, Hemingway always regretted leaving Hadley and if you have read A Moveable Feast, it’s obvious how much he loved and idolized Hadley as well.

This book is amazing. Honestly, it was so illuminating to learn more about Hadley and it gave me so much more insight into Hemingway’s writing. It is written beautifully and it tells a pretty amazing story. Paris in the 20’s y’all. Paris in the 20’s with the Fitzgeralds, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and the Hemingways. Spectacular read.

What are you kids reading?

20 thoughts on “A Year In Books

  1. I just added Paris Without End to my Amazon wish list with a high priority, hoping that one of my relatives will take the hint as Christmas approaches 😉

    I’m taking a break from War and Peace so I can re-read (for the 4th time) Ethan Frome for a book club meeting. It’s not a chore since I really enjoy Wharton. After that, the list is so long…it’s hard to say what I’ll be in the mood for.

    Have you ever read anything by or about Martha Gilhorn? She’s the other Hemingway wife that I’m becoming slightly obsessed with.

      1. I’ve read The Wine of Astonishment, a novel, and it was interesting enough to make me think I’d like to read more. I have a collection of her novellas that I plan to crack open over T’giving break. I also read Hemingway on the China Front, which was very interesting and focused on both of them as they were on a ‘spy’ mission during WW2 together. I love biographies so I’m still looking for a good biography of her, and I would really like to read some of her non-fiction.

  2. reppelmann says:

    I’d love to be able to share that I’m reading an amazing rare gem of a book, but instead I’m working my way through the Harry Potter series. However, A Moveable Feast is one of my favorite books of all time so I’ll have to read this one! Also just wanted to add that Hadley, at least in the picture you have here, has a Jackie O. thing going on. Pretty chic/awesome.

    1. All the Harry Potter books are gems. If you love A Moveable Feast, you will definitely love this book. A Moveable Feast is basically a tribute to Hadley- Hemingway always loved her and in his mind and his writing she was the perfect example of a woman. And she was definitely chic/awesome. 🙂

  3. What a beautifully honest and compassionate review of this book, GotC. That it brought out such admiration and empathy in you speaks volumes (no pun intended) for the book and its story. Thanks for sharing your opinion. I’ll put the book on my list.

  4. I’m reading Purge by Sofi Oksanen, a fictional story written with regard to some of the true turbulent times in Estonia’s past. Very good read, though little hard to take at times, because one of the main characters is a victim of human trafficking and it goes into detail, but when you note that the things that happened in the other main character’s past really happened quite frequently during the Soviet occupation of Estonia (many Russians still refuse to admit this fact), then it all comes home. It gives a nice view of some of the culture and how the Estonians lived during those times. It’s my second time reading it, in fact!

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