Sean French

Here’s To You, Mrs Hemingway

Hadley

By Gioia Diliberto

Bloomsbury 288pp £19.99 order from our bookshop

I must begin by declaring a proprietorial interest in the subject of this book, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife. My daughter is named after her. In that anticipatory period where the name takes on an exaggerated, talismanic importance, ‘Hadley’ seemed redolent of those early Hemingway heroines, beautiful, strong, poised. At the same time it had always seemed curiously at odds with its original possessor, who had featured in earlier Hemingway biographies as a dumpy hausfrau, eight years older than the dashing young genius. The marriage lasted less than six years and for the rest of his life Hemingway was associated with some of the most glamorous women of his time.

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