Hemingway in Love
His Own Story
Hemingway's deeply reflective account of his destructive Paris affair and how it affected the legendary life he rebuilt after, as told to his best friend, the writer A.E. Hotchner.
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.
Praise For Hemingway in Love: His Own Story…
"In this piercingly intimate new volume, A. E. Hotchner plumbs the depths of Hemingway's most poignant realizations and regrets - not just whom he loved and ultimately lost, but the very nature of his heart. A tender and devastating portrait...and one I will personally treasure." - Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife
"The first complete understanding of the writer as a man...an important book."—Library Journal (starred review)
"A portrait of triumphant highs, melancholic lows, and the pervading tone of the subject's generation—a human being's love lost."—Publishers Weekly
"Hotchner tells an engaging and harrowing story...offers us something of a 'behind the scenes' glimpse at how Hemingway was processing his past, and dealing with the lingering trauma of regret, physical pain, and his deteriorating creative ability....The final years of Hemingway's life have never been told with such eloquence and compassion."—PopMatters
"Hotchner takes his reader into the beautiful Gritti Palace Hotel in Venice...paints Paris in the 1920s replete with Gertrude Stein, Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, Archibald MacLeish, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and others. ...Hemingway in Love is a lovely little amuse-gueule."—The Lincoln Star Journal
"A. E. Hotchner's Hemingway in Love is a poignant postscript to A Moveable Feast...a book of elegiac charm."—BookPage
“A. E. Hotchner is a natural storyteller, and it has been our good fortune that among his friends and acquaintances are bullfighters, glamorous women, talented actors, painters, poets, and interesting poseurs - people who attract and enlighten readers. Hemingway in Love is the crowning achievement in Hotchner's lifetime study of Hemingway, and I admire it immensely.” —Gay Talese
St. Martin's Press, 9781250077486, 192pp.
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
About the Author
A.E. HOTCHNER (1917-2020) was a life-long writer. In his seven decade career, he produced novels, plays, teleplays, biographies and memoirs. His numerous books include his 1966 internationally bestselling biography of his close friend Ernest Hemingway, Papa Hemingway. His books The Man Who Lived at the Ritz and Looking for Miracles were adapted into TV films, and his memoir, King of the Hill, was adapted into a film in 1993 by Steven Soderbergh.
In addition to his writing career, Hotchner is co-founder, along with Paul Newman, of Newman's Own foods and the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. He lived in Connecticut with his wife, Virginia.
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
Hotchner has a deep love and respect for Hemingway, having come to see him as a father figure. Do you think that Hotchner’s reverence for his mentor renders his assessment of “Papa” overly preferential, and in what ways?
Or do you think that his confidante relationship to Hemingway offered him rare, even unique insight into a man popular culture has typecast in a role that didn’t really fit?
Hotchner speaks about the ways in which Hemingway shaped his life and fledgling career during their thirteen years of friendship. In what ways do you think Hotchner affected and/or influenced Hemingway’s life?
Hemingway recalls his memorable associations with other writers during his Paris years, and after. Do any of Hemingway’s friendships with writers—such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and James Joyce, for example—seem comparable to his own relationship with Hotchner? In what ways? How do you think the writers influenced one another, and where do we see that reflected in their—and specifically, in Hemingway’s and Hotchner’s—respective work?
Many people claim to know Ernest Hemingway based on his books and on his public persona. How does Hotchner’s memoir challenge or, better yet, expand your perception of Hemingway as a writer and Hemingway as a person? Was anything that you learned about him in this book surprising to you?
Was anything that Hemingway divulged to Hotchner surprising to you? How did it challenge your ideas about him?
What are your thoughts on the relationships Hemingway had with the women in his life?
Hotchner took the responsibility of compiling all of Hemingway’s stories and built this narrative from them. Although Hemingway in Love is labeled a memoir, it’s Hemingway—not Hotchner—who dominates the storyline, with Hotchner stepping into the background as the self-described custodian of his mentor’s last story. What do you make of this method of storytelling—should we take Hotchner’s presentation of Hemingway’s confessions as an objective representation of the conversations as they unfolded, or should we account for the tendency of human memory to edit itself, so that we remember things the way we want to remember them, rather than the way they were. And to what degree do you think memory’s tendency to err adds to (or detracts from) the memorial nature of the book?
Hemingway was and is an imposing and enigmatic literary and cultural figure. How do you think our modern connotation for the name Hemingway colors our ability to take Hotchner’s representation of the writer in Hemingway in Love?
Hotchner’s memoir details Hemingway’s major romantic relationships and entanglements. Hadley Richardson clearly emerges as the true love of Hemingway’s life, and although her remorse was less public than her first husband’s, it seems that—to a lesser degree—Hadley saw Ernest the same way. Though Hemingway and Richardson were quick to divorce when they were young, what do you think it was about Richardson that left such an impression on Hemingway? Or, do you think his feelings were primarily nostalgic in nature?