Book Report: At The Hemingways by Marcelline Hemingway Sanford (1962)

Book coverLast year, I went to Orlando and got a book about Hemingway (The Private Hell of Hemingway). This year, on our second trip to Orlando, I brought my own volume of Hemingwayenalia.

This book was written by Ernest Hemingway’s older sister, and it’s about their lives growing up in the nice suburbs of Chicago. It starts with a bit of history about their grandparents, both sets of which became well-to-do, and runs through the Hemingways proper from the time they moved from the Hall (Mrs. Hemingway’s parents) home to their own home and through their childhoods and up, sort of, to 1962. It’s full of good period detail, discusses their interesting family history, describes the love of outdoors that the family shared and times at their home in Michigan. The book also carries forth beyond their childhood to some incidents in Hemingway’s life after he leaves home, their worrying about him when he goes to Italy in World War I and its aftermath and how he ends up writing. The book also goes on to describe the decline and suicide of Dr. Hemingway and what Mrs. Hemingway did after he did (which is develop another career as a painter and speaker). The book does not deal with Hemingway’s suicide because he probably hadn’t done so when the book was written.

Ernest Hemingway is a minor character in this book, so it’s not a biography of his except tangentally. I enjoyed it, though, but I am into turn-of-the-twentieth-century memoirs (I mean, I’ve read Clarence Day’s Life with Father twice). So I would have read it even if it wasn’t about Hemingway if it had come into my hands, but I expect it wouldn’t have been published–nor even written–if the woman had not been Hemingway’s sister.

Books mentioned in this review:

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