HADLEY by Gioia Diliberto
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A life of Ernest Hemingway's first wife and a quite moving return to A Moveable Feast; by the author of 1987's well-received Debutante: The Story of Brenda Frazier. Earlier Hemingway biographers have drawn Hadley Richardson Hemingway as a shadowy figure or as only one in a gallery of Hemingway women. Diliberto gives Hadley a body and importance that outweighs that of any other woman in the writer's life. Hemingway died working on an exquisite memoir of their marriage (a page fora Moveable Feast was found in his typewriter that morning) and--aside from Lady Brett--Hadley figured strongly in all his heroines. As he aged and his wives failed him, Hemingway's idealization of life with Hadley became a touchstone for youth and art, the fresh powers that once burned like ice under his fingernails, the taut strength unstrung by depression, alcohol, and electroshock treatments. Diliberto keeps her pages fresh with virgin material from Hadley's hundreds of letters to the writer during separations and after their divorce (she burned Hemingway's early letters to her when she remarried) and with many quotations from Hemingway's unpublished sketches and with rich outtakes from A Moveable Feast, which Mary Hemingway had vetted when shaping and retyping that book for publication. Here they are again, the Murphys, the Fitzgeralds, Gertrude and Alice and Bumby and the running of the bulls at Pamplona but seen through Hadley's eyes as Hemingway restrings his bow for his crossover from journalism to fiction and amazes everyone with the deadly intensity and icy clearness of his sentence. Diliberto shows as well how his unfinished novel, The Garden of Eden, reveals the snapped tensions of their marriage. Said Bumby, their son Jack Hemingway: ""She was eight years older than Papa, and...the breakup...was a blessing. It took place while she was still an attractive and desirable woman...."" ClichÉ-free. Holds Hadley and Hemingway in a clean mirror full of Paris mornings.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1992
Page count: 293pp
Publisher: Ticknor & Fields/Houghton Mifflin