Mrs. Hemingway, by Naomi Wood

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Anyone who knows me well AT ALL knows that I will never turn down a book if I hear the word “Hemingway”. I’m not sure why this is, because as far as I can tell he was a moody, morose alcoholic most of the time. But my interest started when I was very young, and I watched In Love and War, with Sandra Bullock, and I thought he seemed so tortured and passionate (even portrayed by Chris O’Donnell). I think, in real life, he was very charismatic and even magnetic…And he hurt everyone around him when he fell into the darkness that consumed him more and more throughout his life, leading  up to the moment when he took his own life in his later years.

Hemingway was married to four different women-each of them remarkable in her own way. When I was asked if I would be interested in covering Mrs. Hemingway, by Naomi Wood, I was ecstatic. A novel that describes Hemingway’s relationships with his four wives, based on letters and anecdotes from his life? I couldn’t resist.

When Mrs. Hemingway begins, Ernest is married to Hadley, his first wife and the mother to his first born son. She has been traveling with Ernest and living in Europe, and she recalls the moment when she met Ernest and how they fell in love, then the terrible events leading up to her divorce and the entrance of Pauline, the spunky young fashion journalist with family money and not a care in the world for anything…Except the charismatic Ernest Hemingway, of course.

Next we travel through Pauline, who was always a little naïve, and who swore she would never let Ernest go…But when the driven, intelligent, recklessly brave war correspondent Martha Gellhorn enters the scene she doesn’t stand a chance.

Martha and Ernest were passionate and explosive, feeding off one another for energy, for inspiration, and eventually draining one another until Martha finally had enough…But Ernest had the sweet, lovely Mary waiting in the shadows to swoop in and give him the affection and care he craved.

Ernest’s wives were very different, but they all saw something in Hemingway that made them risk everything to have him. Perhaps this is one of the things I find so fascinating about him. So many women, smart, decent women, fell into the storm of his life and fell back out again.

Mrs. Hemingway only takes a surface-level approach to the relationships of these women with Hemingway, but I believe Naomi Wood’s most remarkable accomplishment with this novel is her painfully accurate portrayal of life with a talented, charismatic man who said and did despicable things, hurt people around him, and who was so afraid to be alone that he didn’t have space for a single gap between women in his life…who drowned himself in liquor until he finally lost his mind.

The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

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America’s first astronauts are a proud part of our history as a country. These men tested experimental equipment, were launched on death-defying missions, and risked their lives nearly every day they went to work. The media couldn’t get enough of these heroic icons, representing the progress of the U.S. in science and technology. Unfortunately, while the media was having a heyday over these men and the accomplishments of NASA, they were also fascinated by the women who stood by these remarkable men–the Astronaut wives. These women married risk-taking, proud, ambitious men, but they never dreamed that they would one day be on the cover of Life magazine, interviewing with journalists about what it was like to have your husband shot into space.

This true account (non-fiction) of the Astronaut Wives’ Club outlines the politics of the time, the technological advancements and disasters that lead to finally landing on the moon, orbiting the country, and more. Anyone interested in American history and the fascinating women who could wait in a suburban home for an astronaut to come home for dinner each day–and the remarkable things they did themselves, without getting much credit for their strength of character and bravery themselves.

Fully recommend this read to anyone who likes non-fiction, especially regarding women’s issues and the changing politics in history regarding the role of the female. Top marks! And if you like to listen to your non-fiction via audiobook, Hachette Audio has made The Astronaut’s Wives Club into an audiobook that is impeccably narrated and a great option.

 

 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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Nick and Amy Dunne are celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary. The day starts out like every other anniversary day…But things go sour fast. Nick comes home to find Amy missing, the furniture in disarray. Amy has disappeared.

The police seem to feel like Nick is the prime suspect, and Nick is cooperating with them as best he can…But he can’t shake the feeling that he’s missing a clue somewhere about what really happened to Amy. Did Nick kill Amy? If not, who did? Or is she alive somewhere? Nick looks for clues as to who is wife really is all around…Who did she talk with recently? Who might have wanted to harm her or take her? What did she do before she disappeared? As Nick begins to examine the truth about his wife’s life, he realizes she may not even be the person he thought she was…An Nick has a few secrets of his own.

This novel is a psychological thriller with emphasis on male/female relationships that will give any reader the creeps. Difficult to find novels to compare with this one because psychological thrillers rarely delve into the minds of husbands and wives so deeply, creating a chilling atmosphere that will leave readers mortified. In other words, an excellent psychological thriller for those of you who enjoy the genre, but be prepared to find something unlike any novel you have ever read.