AudioBook Review: Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck
Title: Hemingway’s Girl
Author: Erika Robuck
Narrator: Tavia Gilbert
Format: Hardcover / Paperback / eBook / AudioBook / CD & MP3 CD Audiobook
Publisher: NAL Trade; Original edition
Audio Publisher: Tantor Media
Length: 9 Hours; 10 minutes
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Historical Fiction
Purchase Now: Hardcover § Paperback § eBook § Audible § AudioCD/MP3
About the Book:
She remembered when Hemingway had planted a banyan tree at his house and told her its parasitic roots were like human desire. At the time she’d thought it romantic. She hadn’t understood his warning.” 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 World War I 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 straightforward 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.
Like many, I too have an interesting relationship with Hemingway: the myth surrounding the man, the incredible skill with words, the end at his own hand. While many texts will refer to his ‘larger than life’ persona, calling him the ‘man’s man’, and anecdotes all hint at his less than patient personality, it is only through this mix of fact and fiction, bringing the essence of the man to light while essentially telling the story of one young woman who met the writer during his second marriage.
Mariella is a strong, determined and solidly unorthodox young woman, struggling to maintain the family household after her father’s death and her mother’s slide into depression and lacklustre parenting. While drawn to Hemingway’s aura and solid masculinity, she is equally aghast at his often rude and spoiled behavior. Adding to her confusion is the appearance of a soldier that is as enamored of her as she is confused and confounded by him. The fictional relationships serve to throw spotlights on the fissures in Hemingway’s own second marriage, and serves to infuse Mariella’s youthful impulses with a sense of caution and maturity that was far beyond her years.
Tavia Gilbert as the narrator is polished, clearly spoken and wonderful to listen to. Her slight distinction in tone, tenor and even pacing to delineate the characters she is voicing helps to enhance the story, imbuing each voice with a sense of the character’s personality and weaknesses. Her mother, Eva, for example has that curious mixture of soft-spoken Hispanic lilt with the ennui common to depression, until her temper is flaring and her voice becomes more distinct and rapid-fire. These little nuances make a difference to a listener, emotional subtext and impact can be and is enhanced by professional delivery from the narrator.
This was a story that fuelled my desire and interest in Hemingway once again, and will have me searching for other titles in the same vein from this author. I found the mix of fictional and actual characters, the sense of Depression Era Key West, the realistic characters and the world building and description demanded I listen through the recording in one sitting. A not to be missed book for anyone curious or familiar with Hemingway and wanting to see more, even representations utilizing fictitious characters and conversations.
I received a copy of the AudioBook from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
About the Author :
Erika Robuck is a contributor to the popular fiction blog Writer Unboxed, and she maintains her own blog, Muse. She is the author of the novels Hemingway’s Girl, Receive Me Falling, and Call Me Zelda. A member of the Hemingway Society and the Historical Novel Society, Erika lives in the Chesapeake Bay area with her husband and three sons.
About the Narrator:
Tavia Gilbert, a multiple Audie Award nominee and AudioFile Earphones and Parent’s Choice Award-winning producer, narrator, and writer, has appeared on stage and in film. School Library Journal has called the performances of this highly acclaimed performer “as close as you can get to a full cast narration with a solo voice.” She has narrated nearly 150 multicast and solo voice audiobooks.