Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood

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Where to start when it comes to how much I enjoyed Naomi Wood’s “Mrs. Hemingway“?

I have to admit, 2014 so far has been a little lackluster when it comes to titles that I’ve strongly enjoyed. Mrs. Hemingway was the first novel that really captured my attention and had me staying up late to finish it off. While it will undoubtedly garner comparisons to Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife, the two novels only overlap in the slightest. While McLain chose to focus on the narrative of Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley, in Wood’s book we spend time with all four Mrs. Hemingways- Hadley, Pauline (Fife), Martha and Mary.

The real strength of the novel is how Wood makes you feel for and about each wife. Each is given equal room to tell her story, and a unique clean voice. All of the women are equally sympathetic, and I couldn’t say I favored one wife over the other. I thoroughly enjoyed how Wood links together each of their sections with a delicate hand – the interlocking of their stories never felt forced, and the recurring themes and imagery were subtle and well-written.

Though Papa Hemingway obviously plays a rather substantial part, I appreciated that Wood stayed focused on the four very deserving and achieving women who often get hidden in his shadow.

This novel is currently available on Amazon.com (where I purchased my copy) in both hardcover and Kindle format.

xo The Book Bird 

The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki – A Review

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Based on all of the quiet buzz that is happening around this novel (the movie rights were sold earlier this year), I had higher expectations. Allison Pataki’s “The Traitor’s Wife” is basically a B-rate piece of historical fiction.

My main beef with this book was that the plot plods along without much purpose, and I felt absolutely no urgency to finish it. Fortunately Pataki provides the reader with a decent protagonist, former-farm girl Clara Bell, who finds herself in the employ of the Shippen family follow the death of her last living relatives. It is there that she encounters the Shippen’s youngest daughter, Peggy, future wife of Benedict Arnold.

While the novel focuses on the relationship between Clara and Peggy (somewhat enjoyable/believable), it is somewhat embarrassingly short on actual history. The total number of conversations around politics, or scenes that explained Peggy’s motivations, could probably be counted on two hands in this lengthy novel.

An OK read for the beach, I found myself skimming more than absorbing. That said, this novel is available via the NYPL (both in physical and eReader formats) – definitely a book I would suggest borrowing vs. buying.

xo The Book Bird