Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: 10/20/2015
My Rating: 4 Stars
Biographies & Memoirs
In June of 1961, A.E. Hotchner visited an old friend in the psychiatric ward of St. Mary's Hospital. It would be the last time they spoke: a few weeks later, Ernest Hemingway was released home, where he took his own life. Their final conversation was also the final installment in a story whose telling Hemingway had spread over nearly a decade.
In characteristically pragmatic terms, Hemingway divulged to Hotchner the details of the affair that destroyed his first marriage: the truth of his romantic life in Paris and how he lost Hadley,the real part of each literary woman he'd later create and the great love he spent the rest of his life seeking. And he told of the mischief that made him a legend: of impotence cured in a house of God; of a plane crash in the African bush, from which he stumbled with a bunch of bananas and a bottle of gin in hand; of F. Scott Fitzgerald dispensing romantic advice; of midnight champagne with Josephine Baker; of adventure, human error, and life after lost love. This is Hemingway as few have known him: humble, thoughtful, and full of regret.
To protect the feelings of Ernest's wife, Mary - also a close friend - Hotch kept the conversations to himself for decades. Now he tells the story as Hemingway told it to him. Hemingway in Love puts you in the room with the master as he remembers the definitive years that set the course for the rest of his life and dogged him until the end of his days.
A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
A. E. Hotchner (Aaron Edward) American editor, novelist, playwright, biographer, and friend (Hotch), delivers an intimate inside look, “behind the scenes” of his close friend’s relationship, life, and photos-- HEMINGWAY IN LOVE: His Own Story, a love triangle between the famous much loved author, Ernest Hemingway—(Hadley and Pauline); his loves, his near death experiences, his regrets, and dreams.
Having met Ernest Hemingway some fifty years ago, in 1948, Hotchner became close friends until Hemingway’s death in 1961. In addition, Hotchner is also known for Papa Hemingway, his 1966 biography of Hemingway, whose work he had also adapted for plays and television.
From Paris, Venice, African Safaris, Key West, The Ritz, St Mary’s Hospital, the famous Hundred Day sentence, to his death in Idaho.
Hemingway had experienced a near-death experience in the second of the plane crashes, which upended him-- he was determined to tell Hotcher of a painful period in his life he had never discussed -- he wanted to unburden himself.
While Hemingway relived the harrowing experience –the agony of the period in Paris when he was writing The Sun Also Rises, while in love with two women simultaneously, an experience that would haunt him to his grave.
“Hadley was simple, old-fashioned, receptive, plain, virtuous; Pauline up to the second chic, stylish, aggressive, cunning, nontraditional.” Total opposites. He was in charge of Hadley; whereas, Pauline in charge of him.
Scott Fitzgerald had warned him he would eventually lose both women. However, because two women loved him-- Pauline had money, servants, fancy apartments, boats, houses, and the fact he was tired of poverty at times, he was flattered by the attention of two women. However, was unaware of the dangers of his actions, until it was too late. He lost the one woman he would always love and cherish.
Hotchner reflects back to his private conversations with his friend “Papa”, while withholding some of these conversations years earlier, out of respect for Mary. He reiterates the account is not a buried memory dredged up; however, the story he recounted over the course of their travels, entrusted to him with a purpose. He has finally released it to the world. He shares their stories and adventures from France, Italy, Cuba, Florida Keys, and Spain. Ernest’s zest for life was infectious.
The book opens in 1961, it is the second time Hemingway was a patient in the psychiatric section under the care of doctors from the nearby Mayo Clinic at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester. For six weeks he had not been able to receive visitors or make phone calls.
Back then electric shock was brutally administered, the electric current projected into the patient’s brain without benefit of an anesthetic, a piece of wood clenched between his teeth as he writhed in torturous pain. The Mayo doctors had diagnosed Ernest as suffering from a depressive persecutory condition and had prescribed the ECTs, in an attempt to diminish it.
Mary was Ernest's fourth wife at the time. They had celebrated Ernest’s 60th birthday, which was his last good year. The next upcoming year his paranoia deepened convinced his car and house were being bugged by the FBI and that the IRS were auditing his bank accounts. Mary was distraught. (Some of this information later came to light after his death, which was indeed true). Hotchner witnessed over the next upcoming year, abrupt and puzzling changes in Ernest’s demeanor.
Hemingway questioned what everyone was giving him at age sixty-one. The only thing someone of his age cares about is being healthy, working at his calling, eating and drinking with people he cares about, good sex, traveling to places he loves. He is being denied all of this. Why should he stick around? They were all after him, from the hall phone to the Nurse Susan…all reporting to the FBI.
Out of Hemingway’s four wives, Hadley Richardson, his first wife, is the one he fondly recalls in the book. While they were married, he began an affair with femme fatale, model, Pauline. A total opposite from his wife, Pauline befriended Hadley and interjected herself into their lives. Hadley gave him the famous 100 days to make his decision between the two women.
However, Hadley threw in the towel with a divorce before the hundred days. Aggressive and persistent, Pauline continued to pursue Hemingway, until Hadley asked for a divorce. By this time, Ernest gave in, as Pauline used her wealthy financial status and cunning ways, to seal the deal. With the birth of their children, he was driven further away. There is not much mention of third wife, Martha, except a way to escape Pauline.
The book also accounts and shows photography of Hemingway’s safari to Africa, where he was almost killed in two successive plane crashes that left him in pain or ill health for much of his remaining life. Hemingway maintained permanent residences in Key West, Florida, (1930s) and Cuba (1940s and 1950s), and in 1959, he bought a house in Ketchum, Idaho, where he committed suicide in the summer of 1961.
Ernest, a complex man was pulled between the two women at the time; however, his regrets were leaving the one real love of his life, as readers hear of intimate details of the two women, as well as adventures, travel, and conversations between the two friends over drinks recalling earlier days. From his literature, traumas, his declining health, to his other famous friends such as Scott Fitzgerald and Gary Cooper.
For those Key West fans, you will enjoy pulling up a bar stool, the stories over drinks at the famous Sloppy Joes, where Hemingway was a former co-owner (silent partner) with Joe Russell, with a reserved table. From hunts, friends, art, literature, fishing, skiing, horseback riding, gaming, boating, culture, travel, the Fitzgerald’s, the Murphy’s, booze, good food, sex, loves and women.
“All things truly wicked start from an innocence.”—Ernest Hemingway
Hotchner, a natural storyteller, delivers an admirable account of his friend's thoughts. Hemingway and literature fans will appreciate the inside look at this gifted novelist; the highs and lows, of a complex man, and the raging storms; his loves, both personally and professionally.
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About the Author
Hotchner is the author of many books and plays, including Papa Hemingway, The Man Who Lives at the Ritz, and King of the Hill. With friend Paul Newman, Hotchner cofounded Newman's Own, Inc., which has donated more than $350 million to charity from its line of foods.
Hotchner resides in Westport, Connecticut, with his wife Virginia Kiser, where he spends most weekends, and cares for an African gray parrot, and a flock of peacocks and chickens.