Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Garden of Eden; Ernest Hemingway

Title: The Garden of Eden
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Publication Year:  1986

Publisher: Scribner
Edition: trade softcover
Source: my shelves

Setting: France
Date Completed: April - 2013
Rating: 3.5/5 
Recommended: not sure 

The Garden of Eden was a very different novel, and actually after a while I found it kind of boring. It was published in 1986, some 25 years after Hemingway's death.

It's the story of an American writer, David Bourne, and his new wife Catherine (Hill) who have traveled to the coast of France for their honeymoon.

David is very smart, but he lets his new wife call all of the shots.  I'm guessing he's either a wimp or he just doesn't want to rock the boat being that they are newlyweds, and they are having plenty of sex throughout the novel.  Catherine is a piece of work. She's beautiful, rich and spoiled. She isn't supportive of David's writing career and instead views his time spent writing as her "competition".  At one point, in a childish tantrum she even burns some of his work.  To spice things up a bit she cuts her hair to look like a young man, and she even begins to dress like one.  She even introduces another woman into their physical relationship. The woman, Marita, seems to care more about David than Catherine does. David is uncomfortable with this whole idea, yet once again he lets his wife call the shots and goes along with what she says.

This story definitely felt like an unfinished work to me, and for me the way it ended just didn't seem to fit the story. It is probably the reason why it was never published until after Hemingway's death.

Have you read this one?  Am I the only one who was a little disappointed. This was one from my 2013 Bucket List, it's been on my shelf unread for years.

A few quotes I liked --
  • "Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know."
  • “When you start to live outside yourself, it's all dangerous.”
  • "All I want to do is kill you," David said. "And the only reason I don't do it is because you are crazy." 


  1. Interesting. It sounds like a darker side of "A Moveable Feast."

  2. I haven't read this one of Hemingway's. I like the last quote you chose...

  3. Sounds like a hard book to read--a writer being sabotaged by his spouse...seems like Hemingway was dabbling in personal psychoanalysis!

    I'm reading a short Hemingway later this year--it's been a long time since I read this author, but I hope my encounter is more positive than yours.

  4. Haven't read it, Diane, but it sounds pretty similar in tone to many of his books (according to reviews I've read). I have A Moveable Feast on my shelf and really should make time to read it. I loved The Paris Wife.

  5. Diane, thanks for your honest review. It must be nice to cross this off of your list. The ending quotes are certainly interesting!

  6. I have not read this one...I'm not sure I would, considering your thoughts on it. Thanks for sharing....

  7. I had not read that one and am likely to continue that trend!

  8. This doesn't sound very promising, and I am already biased because the wife sounds like a really awful person. I haven't read much Hemingway, because I sort of feel like he is a man's author. His prose is very taciturn and direct, and I don't usually enjoy that. Thanks for covering this one. I haven't seen a review of it anywhere else.

  9. I have only read a couple of Hemingway's books and a few of his short stories. I've liked what I read, but I admit this is a book that doesn't really interest me--even before your review of it.

    On the plus side, you get to cross it off your bucket list! It's always nice when we can do that, isn't it? :-)

  10. Based on your review I will definitely skip this one. Don't like the storyline nor the characters.

  11. I read this one years ago. Seemed autobiographical to me. Your review is dead on.

  12. From your review, I think I'll pass on this book.

  13. Well, at least you can cross it off your bucket list. Sounds like he was living out some type of twisted fantasy!! I applaud you for finishing it actually!

  14. Sounds very much like Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald; the lives in the 20s were quite chaotic, but I guess no more so than those of today.

  15. Sometimes there are good reasons that books stay on the shelf unread. Sorry you weren't wowed by this one. I wonder how Hemingway would have felt about it being published if it wasn't ready.
    Thinking about you today. Hope you are somewhere safe.

  16. I'm ashamed to say that I've never read Hemingway. Must rectify that situation ASAP.

  17. You're not the only one who was disappointed. I read it earlier this year and gave it the exact same rating. It was such an odd book. It did feel like a work in progress, but it was so different from Hemingway's other work.

  18. I read this shortly after it was released and remember liking it, but not much else. It's been on my shelf all these years and I'm tempted to pull it out for a reread.

  19. Well, at least you can mark it off the bucket list!

  20. Hmm... sounds like the reverse of The Sun Also Rises, or of Hemingway's own life with his first wife.

  21. Personally, I have read I guess three Hemingway books and so far I have failed to really get captivated by him. I know that is almost blasphemy -- but, whatever. I feel he is worth another chance, but upon reading this review of The Garden of Eden, I will not try this particular one, I guess.


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