This was a thoroughly enjoyable read from the first page to the last. Please note that a familiarity with Ernest Hemingway’s writings is not necessary, but would enhance the appreciation of the quotes at the beginning of each chapter as well as the references to characters and plot points of his books.
In life, Hemingway had three sons, but no daughter. Whitehead has created this fictional character with such finesse that the story becomes totally believable. Filled with the complexities of Hemingway’s personal life and career, the novel unfolds is simple, yet effective prose. The dialogues are natural and reflect the multidimensional aspects of the relationships between the characters. From reading a brief biography of Hemingway, the author appears to have stayed true to many of the events and people that peppered his life. For all the drama portrayed in the book, it never deteriorated into melodramatic affectation.
Findley (aka Finn, aka “Flea”) is an engaging character. Her relationship with her father is paradoxically one of a deep loving bond, yet fraught with her insecurity in not knowing her place in his life’s priorities. Like many gifted, creative people, Hemingway was self-centered and suffered emotionally and physically for his art form. Finn understood this, but craved to be foremost in his focus. I appreciated her strong character and her desire to challenge the prevailing attitude that women could not compete in a man’s domain – in this case becoming a successful litigation attorney.
In essence this is a love story of a woman who struggled to reconcile her deep need for connection with a belief that the “Hemingway Curse” made it impossible to experience true and lasting love. Her father’s multiple marriages and affairs underscored this belief and challenged her to risk living life on her own terms rather than avoiding the vulnerability inherent in loving someone. My thanks to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for the privilege of reviewing this book. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.