Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

I have been reading this book off and on for about a year.  Its a memoir of Hemingway's time in Paris and each chapter is fairly independent from the others.  I had a hard time sticking with it because it never felt like much of a story.  But reading The Paris Wife was the perfect motivation to finish the book and see the same story from his point of view. I am just not much of a Hemingway fan, but this was one of his better books, particularly the chapters on F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I'm glad I read the book (if for no other reason than it gets Brian off my case) but I can't say I plan on reading any more Hemingway anytime soon!

Read (or finished): February 2012

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

My husband is a HUGE fan of Ernest Hemingway.  He has read most Hemingway books and will always order a Hemingway cocktail if there is one on the menu.  He even dragged us to Hemingway's favorite bar in Venice on our honeymoon (which sadly required coat and tie so we couldn't go in).  Anyway, The Paris Wife is a fictionalized account of Hemingway's first wife Hadley and their time in 1920s Paris during the heyday of Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Although technically fiction, the novel is based on real events, including Hemingway's memoir and their letters.  I enjoyed the book - the writing was easy and Hadley was a likable narrator.  It did make me sad because from the very beginning you know that Hemingway was a womanizer and that he had two wives after Hadley so you know how it will probably end.  It was the perfect way for me to learn more about Hemingway without actually reading him.  I think this one is worth reading!
Read: January 2012 via Kindle

P.S. This is Brian outside of Hem's favorite bar in Venice on our honeymoon.  You can see why we didn't fit the dress code!

Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig

Scarlett and Rhett are without a doubt one of the most famous couples in literary (and movie) history.  But what about Rhett's side of the story?  Why isn't he accepted in polite society?  What's the deal with Belle?  How did he avoid fighting in the war?  This novel starts when Rhett is a young boy and gives you his background - how he came to abhor slavery, how he was disowned by his family, how he made his name, how he met Scarlett and courted her.  You learn about his motivation for doing certain things and how different events affected him.  The novel ends after Gone with the Wind so you get a little more of the story after that famous line: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.  

Margaret Mitchell's estate authorized McCaig's novel (unlike the other Gone with the Wind sequel - Scarlett) and I thought the novel blended well with Gone with the Wind.  McCaig understood the original characters well and his new characters fit perfectly - providing good insight and balance.  Overall, this was an entertaining read and I'm glad I finally got around to it.  But if you aren't big on Gone with the Wind, this might not be the book for you.

Read: January 2012 via CD from the library