Book Review: Hemingway’s Girl

hemingway3While researching Ernest Hemingway’s personal papers, Erika Robuck discovered a photograph of the famous author on the dock in Havana, surrounded by poor fishermen and a young Cuban girl.

The image of the intense young woman stayed with Robuck. Later, she channeled that memory into Mariella Bennet, the independent and fearless protagonist of Hemingway’s Girl. Born of a Cuban mother and white father, this feisty young woman takes on the responsibility of supporting her widowed mother and sisters after the untimely death of her beloved father.

When the novel opens, Mariella is scurrying between odd jobs and occasionally betting on boxing matches. After meeting Hemingway, she secures a position as maid at his house in Key West, where he lives with his second wife, Pauline, and their children.

Mariella is unlike the other women in Hemingway’s life. While she is drawn to the larger-than-life Hemingway, she is determined not to cross any lines or become another of his cast-off girls. Mariella’s life becomes even more complicated after meeting Gavin Murray, a WWI veteran working on the overseas highway. Torn between her desire for Hemingway and her blossoming love for Gavin, Mariella struggles with many of her decisions.

While reading, I had to constantly remind myself that this was not a factual account. Erika Robuck has succeeded in skillfully integrating Mariella into Hemingway’s world during the 1930s in Key West.

Highly recommended, especially if you have read The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.


4 responses to “Book Review: Hemingway’s Girl

  1. What a great interview! It’s so nice to meet you, Erika, the voice, the woman, beinhd the book. I bumped into your book by accident at a tiny bookstore out of town and am so happy that I did! Reading Hemingway’s Girl makes it so easy for me to slip into the Hemingway home with it’s noise and activity, take a stroll on the docks, feel the salt water spray on my skin as I fish in the bright hot sun, and eavesdrop on even the most intimate conversations. Great story, thanks for sharing the life of Ernest Hemingway with those of us who knew so little about him, but have now become a fan of his writings. :)Like? 0

  2. Your premise is fascinating. I hope your story does well. One of my favorite Hemingway books is To Have and Have Not. I feel the movie was botched because it left out the Key West section about the boat captain’s wife and two girls. Am getting nostalgic reading your piece here. Gawd amighty, makes me want to finish one of mine goin’ on. Best wishes.

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