Published by Penguin on 5/27/2014
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Hadley, Pauline, Martha and Mary were the four women who called themselves Mrs. Hemingway. In sections that stretch from Paris in the 1920’s through the Florida Keys to 1960’s Idaho, Naomi Wood relays the stories of the women who loved the infamous writer.
The magic of Mrs. Hemingway is Wood’s ability to make readers feel frustration and spite toward a mistress in one section, but feel empathy toward her as a wife in the next. While each of Hemingway’s wives is set apart with a distinct personality, the impact he has on all of their lives binds them together in a unique way.
“Ernest and the woman laugh as they shelter under the eave until the woman says something and looks ready to leave. Ernest watches her walk away, but his stare is one of accomplishment, as if, later in the night, he will come to possess what he appears to be losing now.”
Mrs. Hemingway‘s prose is stunningly effortless and moves with a lovely, constant cadence. Throughout the novel, Wood finds ways to bring new light to otherwise worn commentary on marriage, particularly in the section from the perspective of Mary as she grieves Hemingway’s death. Though bookstores are well stocked with “Mrs.” and “Wife” titles, Mrs. Hemingway is one that truly deserves to stand apart from the others.