Hemingway’s Daughter

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“Think of what you can do with what there is. Now is no time to think of what you do not have.” –Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

Most people know Hemingway for his adventurous lifestyle and love of women, all women. Well, most women. Hemingway’s Daughter is the story of what could have been a truly beautiful father/daughter relationship if the renowned author had had a daughter. Author Christine M. Whitehead paints a vivid picture from start to finish of Finley Hemingway, a fictional character, born on Hemingway’s own birthday, July 21st. In the book, Finley clearly states that her father is “100 percent reliable 60 percent of the time”. And although this is the case, she loves him with all her heart. At boarding school, she is picked on by rich girls, especially by the leader of the pack, Prill, who brags that she knows the Armstrongs of Newport, a wealthy family. Finley finds herself meeting Nicholas Armstrong himself and they form an unbreakable bond. It is through Finn’s story that we feel her heartbreak as Nicholas goes into the war during Pearl Harbor. And as she leans on her father’s shoulder, we see a softer side of Ernest Hemingway.

Throughout the book, Hemingway pops in and out of Finn’s life, however, his strong words help to support her through thick and thin. He is her rock, even though he is usually not sober and is on who knows what number wife. The relationship between Hemingway and Finn is beautiful, gentle, and tender beneath his tough exterior and her feistiness.

One of my favorite parts of the story is when Cole Porter sings a special song from Nicholas to Finley at Victoria’s ball. This comes right after Prill tells Finley at the polo match that Cole Porter is a friend of her mother’s and promised to play something for her that evening. I also really love that so much of the information in the book including the names of the characters surrounding Hemingway, historical dates, and tidbits from Hemingway’s well-known writings are included. The strategic namedropping of famous people such as Jackie Bouvier is also applauded. These details really brought the book to life.

Hemingway’s Daughter is well-written fiction that could easily have passed as non-fiction had I not known Hemingway did not have a daughter. I read this book in one day because the pages kept turning themselves. It made me cry. It made me laugh. It made me cheer. I recommend this book to anyone who appreciates a story written like a piece of art instead of just words on a page.

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Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 425 pages
Publisher Christine Whitehead
Publish Date 15-Jul-2021
ISBN 9798723557581
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue July 2021
Category Historical Fiction