A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway is a love letter to the time in his life when Hemingway was the most content and when viewed from the backdrop of his later life becomes extremely moving.
5/5 – A perfect heart & mind score for me
Type of Story: Memoir
A Moveable Feast By Ernest Hemingway is a posthumous work about his early life living in Paris, France, that is written in a very literary way that even Hemingway offers can be read as fiction or non-fiction, it is the reader’s choice. The bulk of the book deals with Hemingway’s relationships and acquaintances with other expatriated writers that either lived or stayed in Paris. A few of these other writers are: James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, Ford Madox Ford, Ernest Walsh, and Evan Shipman. Hemingway and his “friends” talk about writing and reading while drinking a lot of wine in small French cafes. Hemingway also talks about his first wife, Hadley, in lovingly ways of a love lost.
Why you should read this book:
If you are a lover of books or interested in the writing process this is a book that you would love. Hemingway is just a young writer in his 20’s attempting to find his unique voice. Using the resources of other books, that he was able to get on loan from Shakespeare & Company books, run by Sylvia Beach, or from books left by English speaking tourists in hotels, Hemingway delved into a lot of the books that we consider classics today. At one point he considers the perfect night as a nice dinner, some wine, a book to read for the night, and going to bed to make love with his wife. Hemingway was excited for life and that enthusiasm comes through the page.
Even though the accounts describing the friendships and acquaintances with other writers, was little more than gossip, it was still interesting to hear how people like F. Scott Fitzgerald really acted. In fact, Fitzgerald’s chapters were the highlight for me. Some of the writers were so eccentric and odd that Hemingway didn’t want to go around them at all, while others, like Gertrude Stein, played a vital role in mentoring Hemingway.
At the end of the book, Hemingway laments the fact that he cheated on his wife, Hadley, and says, “I wished I had died before I loved anyone but her.” Before this line, the book was a cheerful portrayal of a young writer’s life writing, married to the love of his life, in a magical city, but after this line, it became a moment in time, a feeling, that Hemingway would never get back. Hemingway died, from suicide, before A Moveable Feast was published. He suffered from a mental illness that was the inability to metabolize iron. Not only did this ruin his mind but his body as well. Both his father, sister, and brother had the illness, and they all committed suicide. Hemingway was never that man in Paris after his divorce to Hadley in 1927. Even though he wrote some of his most famous works after this, he became a completely different man.
For me, this book is a sobering reminder to cherish every moment of happiness, and to not do things that might risk the chance for that happiness to disappear. I absolutely loved this memoir. Hemingway’s journey of discovery through some of the classics was outstanding to read about, especially when him and Evan Shipman talked about the Russian authors. The simple life that Hemingway lived in Paris with his wife seems absolutely blissful to me. The small outside cafes, getting some writing done, a loving wife to walk the streets of Paris with, was all so perfect. Some of the acquaintances with different authors was a little bit crass but it showed how different these men were from each other. There is some debate that Hemingway purposely put himself in a good light in comparison to his comrades but that doesn’t bother me much. The emotional and long lasting impact of this memoir is because of the research I did on Hemingway’s life while preparing for this review and I would urge everyone to read about his life before or after reading this book. I look forward to reading his fiction in the future and rereading A Moveable Feast.