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Hemingway's Daughter ISBN: 9798723557581
Finn Hemingway knows for a fact that she’s been born at the wrong time into the wrong family with the wrong talents, making her three dreams for the future almost impossible to attain. She burns to be a trial lawyer in an era when RBG is being told to type and when a man who is 500th in his law school class is hired over a woman who is first in hers. She yearns to find true love when the family curse dictates that love always ends for the Hemingways and usually it ends badly. And finally, she’d give up the first two dreams if she were able to snag the third. She longs to have an impact on the only thing that matters to her father: his writing. To accomplish that would require a miracle. All three dreams are almost impossible, but it’s the “almost” that keeps Finn going. Hemingway had three sons but ached for a daughter. This is her story.
Whitehead (The Rage of Plum Blossoms) delivers an immersive fictional imagining of the life of the fictional Finn Hemingway, a daughter of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley. When Finn leaves her Chicago home to attend a Connecticut boarding school at the age of 14, intent on eventually becoming a lawyer, she falls in love with Nick Armstrong, a relationship soon tested when he enlists in the Marines during the second World War while carries through with her quest for a legal career, attending Smith College and eventually enrolling in law school. Finn does not live with her famous father, but they correspond regularly, and she spends treasured time with him when not in school, as she tries to understand his fractured relationships with women.

The heart of Whitehead’s richly emotional narrative is Finn’s journey of self-discovery and her desire to forge her own path in the shadow of her father’s notoriety. Hemingway’s Daughter draws on the storied author’s history to address controversies surrounding his novels—and once-pressing allegations that he supported communism—adding realism and credibility to the conceit of an imagined daughter. Whitehead expertly develops Finn, interspersing (invented) letters from her father and (actual) quotes from his books into the text. The letters, playfully reminiscent of Hemingway’s famous style, find him offering support for his daughter while noting the vital role that writing plays in his life. Finn’s complexity comes through as she fights against boarding school bullying and addresses how her physical appearance and height run contrary to societal standards.

Whitehead emphasizes her similarities to her father—namely, their mutual struggles with alcoholism and its potential to overshadow their brilliance. Finn’s innermost feelings about her father will resonate most with readers, as she closes this compelling narrative: “He was flawed and fabulous, mean-spirited bully and most gracious of men, driven wordsmith and drunken raconteur, braggart and humble man, international icon and Midwestern boy, all of it. It was all true.”

Takeaway: Ernest Hemingway’s fictional daughter comes to life in a compelling and nuanced story of love, inheritance, and making your own way.

Great for fans of: Erika Robuck’s Hemingway’s Girl, Naomi Wood’s Mrs. Hemingway

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A