Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood

In the dazzling summer of 1926, Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley travel from their home in Paris to a villa in the south of France. They swim, play bridge and drink
gin. But wherever they go they are accompanied by the glamorous and irrepressible Fife. Fife is Hadley’s best friend. She is also Ernest’s lover. Hadley is the first Mrs. Hemingway, but neither she nor Fife will be the last. Over the ensuing decades, Ernest’s literary career will blaze a trail, but his marriages will be ignited by passion and deceit. Four extraordinary women will learn what it means to love the most famous writer of his generation, and each will be forced to ask herself how far she will go to remain his wife... Luminous and intoxicating, Mrs. Hemingway portrays real lives with rare intimacy and plumbs the depths of the human heart.

Mrs Hemingway is Naomi Wood's second novel and will be published by Picador on 13 February 2014.

Everyone has heard of Ernest Hemingway, but there is not so much written about his wives. Mrs Hemingway is a fictionalised account of the women who shared Hemingway's life.

The reader is introduced to Hemingway and his first wife Hadley, it is 1926 and they are staying in a villa in Antibes, also staying with them is Ernest's lover Fife.  Fife is also the best friend of Hadley.  And so, we begin the journey alongside Hemingway and his women.  An unconventional journey, and at times, for the women at least, a very unhappy journey.

Spanning almost forty years, this story takes us through not just relationships, but through war and across a world that is changing quickly.   The lazy days of the 1920s accompanied by some of the most famous names of the time, through war torn Paris and of course in Cuba, where Hemingway spent many years.

Naomi Wood has given each of Ernest's four wives a voice.  Hadley, Fife, Martha and Mary all tell their own story, each of them dealing with the intricacies that he has woven in their own individual way.

Wood writes with flair and passion, creating a captivating story that on the surface appears to be full of glitz and glamour and fame.  The darker side ripples away just below the surface, the heartbreak and pain, the betrayals and deceptions that Hemingway left in his wake.   Each wife sees something a little different in Ernest, he is the central figure in their lives and through him, they become connected forever.

This is a truly beautiful read that casts the reader under a spell, it is addictive and terribly moreish.  The writing is evocative, the characters are huge.  I savoured every moment.

I was lucky enough to meet Naomi Wood at the Pan Macmillan Women's Fiction Party last week.  I'd like to thank Francesca from Picador/Pan Macmillan who sent my copy for review.

Naomi WoodNaomi Wood was born in 1983 and lives in London. She studied at Cambridge and at UEA for her MA in Creative Writing. Originally from York, she has gone on to live in Hong Kong, Paris and Washington DC. She is the author of The Godless Boys and Mrs. Hemingway. 

For more information about the author, and her work, visit her website
You can find her on Facebook and on Twitter @NaomiWoodBooks and on Pinterest 


  1. I love the sound of this. I haven't read any Hemingway but find him intriguing as a person especially his interaction with F Scott Fitzgerald and co.

  2. I think you'd like it Treez. Must admit that I thought of you when I was reading it as both Scott and Zelda feature quite heavily in it.