In June of 1961, A.E. Hotchner visited an old friend in the psychiatric ward of St. Mary’s Hospital. It would be the last time they spoke–a few weeks later, Ernest Hemingway was released home, where he took his own life. Their final conversation was also the final installment in a story whose telling Hemingway had spread over more than a decade.
In characteristically pragmatic terms, Hemingway revealed to Hotchner the details of the affair that destroyed his first marriage: the truth of his romantic life in Paris and how he lost Hadley, the true part of each literary woman he’d later create and the great love he spent the rest of his life seeking. And he told of the mischief that made him a legend: of impotence cured in a house of God; of a plane crash in the African bush, from which Hemingway stumbled with a bunch of bananas and a bottle of gin in hand; of F. Scott Fitzgerald dispensing romantic advice and champagne in the buff with Josephine Baker; of adventure, human error, and life after lost love. This is Hemingway as you’ve never known him–humble, thoughtful, and full of regret.
To protect the feelings of Ernest’s wife–Mary, also a close friend–Hotch held back, keeping the conversations to himself for decades. Now, for the first time, he tells the whole story, mostly in Hemingway’s own words. Hemingway in Love is the intimate and repentantly candid chapter missing from the definitive biography of a literary giant.
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