Synopsis: (from author)
In Depression-era Key West, Mariella Bennet, the daughter of an American fisherman and a Cuban woman, knows hunger. Her struggle to support her family following her father’s death leads her to a bar and bordello, where she bets on a risky boxing match...and attracts the interest of two men: world-famous writer, Ernest Hemingway, and Gavin Murray, one of the WWI veterans who are laboring to build the Overseas Highway.
When Mariella is hired as a maid by Hemingway’s second wife, Pauline, she enters a rarified world of lavish, celebrity-filled dinner parties and elaborate off-island excursions. As she becomes caught up in the tensions and excesses of the Hemingway household, the attentions of the larger-than-life writer become a dangerous temptation...even as the reliable Gavin Murray draws her back to what matters most. Will she cross an invisible line with the volatile Hemingway, or find a way to claim her own dreams? As a massive hurricane bears down on Key West, Mariella faces some harsh truths...and the possibility of losing everything she loves.
I met Erika Robuck at BEA in June, and she seemed like someone I would be friends with if we lived in the same town. She was lovely! Sometimes, I worry that my personal connection with an author skews my objectivity when reviewing a book. Before I wrote this review, I told several of my reader friends about how much I loved HEMINGWAY'S GIRL, in hopes they would read it. They did. I am happy to report that they loved the book as much as I did, quieting my fears that my gushing was purely for the book, and not just for the author.
Erika Robuck felt an early connection to Ernest Hemingway's work, and that love and respect comes through in the pages of HEMINGWAY'S GIRL, which is both a dramatic novel and an homage to the legendary author lovingly referred to as "Papa".
After the first few chapters, I thought I knew where the storyline was going, but I was wrong - and I have never been so happy to be wrong! Erika Robuck completely drew me in, surprising me at every turn, and I found it easy to wrap myself up in this book.
Key West is as much one of the characters as Mariella or Gavin. Vivid in her descriptions, the author brings us there with the sights, sounds, smells and highly charged emotion that is Hemingway's Key West.
From the little that I remembered of Ernest Hemingway before reading this novel, I had an image of a misogynistic, testosterone-filled, angry drunk. After reading HEMINGWAY'S GIRL, I'm not sure those notions have been erased, but I can add lonely to this portrait. Only someone with a love for Hemingway could take what we already know of him and add complex layers in order to make him a man that is not only larger than life, but also fierce in both his loyalty and his love. I'm not sure how she did it on the page, but I felt the energy change whenever he entered a scene.
As much as I anticipated the scenes with Hemingway, Mariella was the driving force in this novel, and not just because she is the title character. Her morality and fierce convictions lend a solid dichotomy to her relationship with Hemingway, becoming almost as electric as he is.
I am a fan of historical fiction, especially when it's done right. Erika Robuck does everything right. I highly recommend HEMINGWAY'S GIRL!
Erika Robuck: Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter
About the Book
About the Author: (from author site)
ERIKA ROBUCK was born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland. Inspired by the cobblestones, old churches, Georgian homes, and mingling of past and present from the Eastern Shore, to the Annapolis City Dock, to the Baltimore Harbor, her passion for history is well nourished.
Her first novel, RECEIVE ME FALLING, is a best books awards finalist in historical fiction from USA Book News. Her second novel, HEMINGWAY'S GIRL, was published by NAL/Penguin on September 4, 2012. Her third novel, CALL ME ZELDA, will follow in 2013.
Erika is a contributor to popular fiction blog, Writer Unboxed, and maintains her own blog called Muse. She is a member of the Maryland Writer's Association, The Hemingway Society, and The Historical Novel Society. She spends her time on the East Coast with her husband and three sons.