Books: A Moveable Feast

English: Winter, 1922 Ernest Hemingway and Had...
Image via Wikipedia


It’s February and I’m reading A Moveable Feast with Wallace at  We’re halfway through the book now and I am enjoying it, although I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much if I hadn’t read The Paris Wife and heard the author tell of her experience in writing the book!  Many are not enjoying it as much – his writing style, his attitude and self-importance.  Below are the comments that I made on Wallace’s blog on this week’s reading (to chapter 17).





I am caught up!


I am enjoying the reading and find myself looking things up all the time! From words that he uses (inaccroachable: to the phrases that he uses (clearly marked for death: ).


Some things that I’m keeping in mind about him as I read this come from listening to the author of The Paris Wife and my suppositions that I arrived at while reading that book. He is very young during this time and had already faced tragedy in the Great War. He was injured and fell in love with his nurse, who wrote him a Dear Ernest letter after his recovery and return to the US. I think he probably had some “demons” (read: PTSD) from the war that affected how he had relationships with people. Paula McLain also talked about how he could never be without a woman. He went from relationship to relationship, never ending one until another was started. It is noted that he hated his mother, his father committed suicide (as did Hadley’s) and he received ECT (shock treatments) at Mayo Clinic in his 50s.


He’s definitely not a sympathetic character, but that last paragraph (see below) does give insight into the depth of his feelings for Hadley and his acknowledgement of her hurt. I guess he contacted her late in his life – a few weeks before his suicide. It’s hard to see much of Hadley in this book (so far… I haven’t read ahead!) but I guess I keep in my mind other accounts of their relationship.


Hadley and I had become too confident in each other and careless in our confidence and pride. In the mechanics of how this was penetrated I have never tried to apportion the blame, except my own part, and that was clearer all my life. The bulldozing of three people’s hearts to destroy one happiness and build another and the love and the good work and all that came out of it is not part of this book. I wrote it and left it out. How it all ended, finally, has nothing to do with this either. Any blame in that was mine to take and possess and understand. The only one, Hadley, who had no possible blame, ever, came out of it finally and married a much finer man than I ever was or could hope to be and is happy and deserves it and that was one good and lasting thing that came out of that year.


Off to read!




Author: “The Paris Wife”

I love to meet authors, or if I can’t meet them personally, to listen to them speak about their books and their passion for writing.  I find it fascinating.

Paula McLain, author

In the beginning of December I noticed a sign at the Rochester Public Library that Paula McLain, author of “The Paris Wife” was going to be speaking in January.  I knew that Deadra loved this book and so I put in my request for it and invited Deadra down for the afternoon event.  I started reading the book right before Christmas and ate it up.  It was hard to remember that it was historical fiction and not a memoir or biography of the woman who was Ernest Hemingway’s first wife.  It is a beautifully written book and made me want to know more about Papa.

Paula talked about how she got the idea to write the book from Hadley’s point of view and how she read thousands of pages of letters that Hadley had written to Ernest while they were courting.  Unfortunately, Hadley destroyed her letters from Ernest after their messy divorce (reminded me a little of the Love Letter Bonfire that Beth and I had a few years ago!), but as a result, she really got an understanding of how Hadley thought and felt.

Ernest Hemingway's 1923 passport photo
Ernest Hemingway's passport photo 1923 Image via Wikipedia

Paula recommended we look at Hemingway’s passport photo from 1923 and challenged us to see if we didn’t get a little swoony at the sight.  Deadra and I agreed that it didn’t do it for us, but I found this picture of him in 1921 that does make him look a little dreamy.  (Sorry it’s so small!)

Ernest Hemingway 1921

I also found this wedding photo from Hadley and Ernest’s wedding, which I thought was pretty fun.

Hadley and Ernest Hemingway, Wedding Day 1921

It was fascinating to listen to Paula talk about her passion she found while researching for this book and I’m glad that I read the book before listening to her discussion.  I also liked to hear the reaction she is getting from the descendents of the Hemingways.  Made me tear up a little!

I will read Hemingway – Deadra and I think “A Moveable Feast,” his last book – sounds like a great one to read, so it will go on my TBR list!

As I was listening to her speak, I wondered if I could challenge myself to find an author discussion/book reading each month for the year 2012… I know I will keep looking for them and going when I can!  I just love hearing authors talk about writing!  If you click on the picture of Paula McLain above, it is linked to an interview done with her on The Hemingway Project blog.  Good stuff!  

Off to read!