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Claire M. Johnson
For Thee
For Thee is Pauline Pfeiffer’s story of her marriage to Ernest Hemingway. A devout Catholic when she meets Ernest, Pauline rejects the moral tenets of her childhood and faith for a man who ten years later will edit her out of his life with the same casual disdain as he would have for a badly written sentence. We see Pauline and Ernest evolve from editor and writer, to lover and lover, to husband and wife, and finally to bitter ex-lovers whose previous passion for each other is only superseded by the acrimony of their divorce.
Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 8.75 out of 10


Plot: Johnson’s work reads almost more like a memoir than a novel; it amazingly vivid and full of historic detail. Pauline's statements about Ernest Hemingway as a former spouse are forceful and unforgettable. She loved him and grew to despise him, lending to this intriguing narrative.

Prose/Style: The prose is strong and makes the book hard to put down. The author writes that Pauline was an excellent editor, and this author proves herself to write extremely well, too.

Originality: This feels wonderfully original, as there doesn't seem to exist a true memoir/biography of Pauline Pfeiffer. The bibliography is extensive and impressive; the author has done her research. Pauline has often been vilified by the press as a homewrecker (of Ernest and Hadley's marriage), but this book provides a somewhat more empathetic view of her and her motives, one of which was steadfast love. For Thee is a welcome addition to the myriad books about the Hemingway mythos.

Character Development/Execution: This is among the most genuine of books about Hemingway's character—his charisma and genius and his flaws. His tender side and his nasty side are evident. Ernest and Pauline come across as strong characters, both empathetic and forceful. This was not a perfect romance, but for a few brief years, it was nearly that. 

Date Submitted: August 23, 2021