This is as much fun to read as a great novel and has all the ingredients of a great read, as they say: love, hate, success, adventure, etc. For the most part, Ernest Hemingway is remembered as a mans's man, an adventurer who loved bullfights, safaris, hunting, shooting, fishing. But at heart he was a man who needed to be taken care of, but resented every woman who tried. All of his wives were from the same basic mold: adverturers and writers (was Hadley a writer?) and all of them wanted nothing more than to be with this exciting man who loved and adored her. That is, until they got married. Then the fun for him was over and he resented being taken care of by a woman who he thought of as a sex object, and he couldn't fathom that they might be able to cohabit the same body. In his letters he pleads for his women to always love him and take care of him, but in reality he resented them for doing just that. He admired Martha Gellhorn, the wife with by far the most spunk, for being a good journalist, until they were married. He wanted her to stay home with him, but she resisted his control. So what does he do? He meets another journalist, Mary Welsh, and immediately, on first sight, falls in love with her and begs for her to take care of him and to always love him. Which she did. And he immediately hated her for it. And it destroyed her.
It is so ironic that the man who professed to hate his father for committing suicide (albeit blaming his mother for it) would in the end take his own life. Of course, by that time he was a shell of the adventurer/writer/lover, and was beset by illness, both psychiatric and otherwise, none of which he would allow treatment for.
Although Hemingway lived and loved in the early to mid 1900s, it seems a long time ago; the world has changed so much! No longer do we see artists and writers living as paupers in France, as expats and proud of it! It was a different time and place, to be sure. But it's fun to read about.
I have not read a lot of Hemingway's novels (The Old Man and the Sea enthralled me when I first read it), but you don't have to be familiar with his writing to love the man and this book. This book, like no other biography I have read, shows the man through the eyes of the women he loved, and resented, and ultimately betrayed, beginning with his mother and continuing on through four wives and several beautiful women who he chased and wooed but for various reasons never made lasting connections with. Please read this book. It is important and entertaining and scholarly all at once.