“Don’t worry,” she says. “Ernest always attracted obsessives. You were only one of many. And secretly, sometimes, I think he was flattered. Nobody ever stalked Fitzgerald.”
So says Ernest Hemingway’s fourth and final wife to his lifelong collector and stalker, Harry Cuzzemano.
Hemingway’s magnetism attracted all sorts of people throughout his adventure-filled life. Not least among them, were his four wives: Hadley Richardson, Pauline Pfeiffer, Martha Gellhorn and Mary Welsh.
In Mrs. Hemingway, each of them narrates her part of the story and then relinquishes it to her usurper, as Ernest embarks on his next marriage.
‘And so the sorry wheel turns again’, Martha comments when her turn comes.
This common trajectory of each wife’s marriage with ‘Nesto’ only brings the wives’ differences into sharper relief. If Ernest is treated as a thing apart, an unknowable genius, the wives, in contrast, are always human.
The story takes us from Paris in the roaring 20s, where Ernest met his first wife, to the Second World War, in the 30s and 40s, when Martha, Mary and Ernest gallavanted about Europe as war correspondents.
Although this is a fictional account, Wood’s meticulous research into Hemingway and his wives’ lives shines throughout. If you’re looking to get to know the history of the Hemingways better, this beautifully written novel is an ideal place to start.