I’ve been on a Hemingway journey for several years, enjoying The Paris Wife, A Moveable Feast, The Sun Also Rises, and Woody Allen’s film Midnight in Paris while armed with my own memories of Paris. Today’s review includes two recent reads about Ernest Hemingway and his world.
Originally published in 1962 after the suicide of her famous brother, Marcelline Hemingway Sanford shares stories of growing up with her brother and very family. With their primary residence in Oak Park, Illinois, and their summer home at Walloon Lake, Michigan, I found these local stories interesting just for their history. A newer edition was published in 1998 for the centennial of Hemingway’s birth, and includes correspondence between Ernest and his sister Marcelline. Hemingway’s experiences as a child and young man in Illinois and Michigan, as well as his time in Italy, Paris, and Spain are part of this treasure trove of Hemingway history. Marcelline Hemingway Sanford’s writing is clean and her narratives move along crisply, with wonderful characterization of the family members and friends who influenced Ernest Hemingway.
For Hemingway fans, this look at the courtship and marriage to Martha Gellhorn brings a new light to the current offerings about Ernest Hemingway and his wives. In Martha Gellhorn, Hem seems to have met his match, and the details of their life together in Key West are very interesting, as well as the information about their political activities. The book suffers from a lack of editing and does not flow well all the time, but if one is interested in the story of Ernest Hemingway, this is a natural choice.
I also watched Hemingway and Gellhorn, the DVD version of the book, starring Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen. It got universally mixed reviews, but my reaction is that if one did not read the book, the characterizations of Hem and Marty would seem over-the-top. I actually think that director Philip Kaufman got it more right than wrong, as the movie capsulizes years of a passionate relationship between the two artists that included a gamut of strong emotions. The movie has some love scenes that are designed for mature adults, and they seem a little graphic considering the target audience of this movie. Most of us know what people do in bed and it wasn’t necessary to show us on the big screen, unless one needs to be reassured that Nicole Kidman’s still got it. The war scenes are equally graphic, but no one seems to complain about them. Whoops — that’s my personal bias showing. I liked Nicole Kidman as the glamorous and gritty Gellhorn, but according to the many photos available of Hem, he was more charismatic than Clive Owen portrays him. If you read and liked the book, you would probably also enjoy the film.
Next up in my Hemingway journey:
- Mrs. Hemingway (2014 book about all four of Hemingway’s wives)
- A Farewell to Arms (for October Book Club)
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