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In June of 1961, A. E. Hotchner visited a close friend in the psychiatric ward of St. Mary's Hospital. It would be the last time they spoke - three weeks later, Ernest Hemingway returned home, where he took his own life. Their final conversation was also the final installment in a saga that Hemingway had unraveled for Hotchner over years of world travel.
Ernest always kept a few of his special experiences off the page, storing them as insurance against a dry-up of ideas. But after a near miss with death, he entrusted his most meaningful tale to Hotchner, so that if he never got to write it himself, then at least someone would know. In characteristically pragmatic terms, Hemingway divulged the details of the affair that destroyed his first marriage: the truth of his romantic life in Paris and how he gambled and lost Hadley, the great love he'd spend the rest of his life seeking.
But the search was not without its notable moments, and he told of those, too: of impotence cured in a house of God; of back-to-back plane crashes in the African bush, one of which nearly killed him, while he emerged from the other brandishing a bottle of gin and a bunch of bananas; of cocktails and commiseration with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Josephine Baker; of adventure, human error, and life after lost love. This is Hemingway as few have known him - humble, thoughtful, and full of regret.
To protect the feelings of Ernest's wife, Mary, who was also a close friend, Hotch kept these conversations to himself for decades. Now he tells the story as Hemingway told it to him. Hemingway in Love puts you in the room with the master and invites you to listen as he relives the drama of those young, definitive years that set the course for the rest of his life and dogged him to the end of his days.
Beneath the macho persona of the writer "who roams the earth looking for adventure," Ernest Hemingway was a deeply conflicted human being, a now familiar observation which this memoir from friend and biographer Hotchner (Papa Hemingway) proves yet again. From notes, recordings, and memories of their conversations, Hotchner presents an account of Hemingway's reminiscences, mostly from 1954 and 1955. Nearing the end of his life and shaken by living through two recent plane crashes, Hemingway looks back, observing, "Loving two women at the same time is the worst affliction a man can have." In his own words (as reconstructed by Hotchner), we see a young writer in Paris, on the cusp of fame, torn between his first wife, Hadley, and a wealthy Southern flapper, Pauline Pfeiffer. Despite F. Scott Fitzgerald's injunction to make up his mind, Hemingway vacillated between the two women, until Hadley chose for him. Their divorce allowed for his marriage to Pauline, which also proved unhappy. Though Hemingway is less mentally and physically healthy each time he meets with Hotchner, his stories remain just as compelling. The result is a portrait of triumphant highs, melancholic lows, and the pervading tone of the subject's generation a human being's love lost.