Review of Erika Robuck’s Hemingway’s Girl

”      You told me people were disposable to me. I fought you, but you were right, and you didn’t want to be used. I told you I would never use you.

But I did.”         Letter to Mariella from Ernest Hemingway

 

Considered by many to be the quintessential American writer, Ernest Hemingway comes to life in Erika Robuck’s newest work Hemingway’s Girl. Published by New American Library/Penguin Group (USA), Hemingway’s Girl resurrects both a challenging and difficult time in American history, the depression of the 1930’s but does so in a colorful and historic place in Hemingway’s life – Key West, Florida.

Robuck spins a tale of love, lust, friendship, conflict, death, and drama that is intense, interesting, realistic without being graphic and historically alive with ‘Papa,” as he was affectionately called, alternating in both the foreground and background of the story with who I consider the novel’s main character, a young Cuban-America woman, Mariella Bennet.

Bennet, who lives with her widowed mother and two sisters, and desires to resume her late father’s fishing business and expand it, becomes employed by Hemingway as a house keeper. And this is where Robuck launches the reader, and the reader’s heart, on a roller-coaster ride as Bennet grapples with her feelings for Hemingway, in plain sight of his second wife, Pauline, and for her emerging feelings for Gavin Murray, a World War 1 vet who is part of the Overseas Highway labor force. The gathering relational and emotional storm is shadowed by the coming hurricane that threatens them all.

There are a couple of things I liked about this book: First is that Robuck’s descriptive writing had me easily envisioning the locale of Key West. Second, is that while this is a historical novel, Robuck does a great job of incorporating a fictional story line into an important American novelist’s actual life setting in a manner that respects Hemingway while adding a suitable dramatic element to the story line.

On my very unscientific rating scale, I rate this book a ‘great read!’

Note: I won a copy of this book via a Goodreads giveaway. I was not required to write a review nor a positive review.

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