Hemingway's Girl: A Novel. Erika Robuck. Penguin Group (USA). September 2012. 352 pages. ISBN #: 9780451237880.
Mariella Bennet is the daughter of an American father and Spanish mother; her mother is paralyzed by grief after the death of Mariella's father. Mariella not only loved her father beyond words but also loves her Key West, Florida community which is struggling to survive during the Depression. Her dream is to save enough money to start a tourist business by running a charter boat. The sea is her home away from home; but her real life at the moment is earning enough to allow her family to eat and her to pay the rent. Into this world a miracle happens, one that will transform her life forever!
One evening at fight on which she recklessly gambled away the rent money, she meet "Papa" Hemingway, famous writer. Hemingway is attracted to her and eventually hires her as "help" in his Key West home, a place where the Depression is notably absent and luxury abounds. A statement from Hemingway aptly exemplifies the novelist's relationships and is a warning to Mariella about the future, comparing a banyon tree to a parasite, feeding on others for its huge survival and strength.
Hemingway's second wife, Pauline, is riddled with jealousy and Hemingway himself displays something of the same, albeit not as severely as his wife, when Mariella meets a fighter, Gavin. A romance clearly is growing between Gavin and Mariella, although Hemingway exerts a sexual attraction to her that confuses her. Meanwhile, her mother warns her about "desire" being dangerous and capable of wrecking her life.
Gavin is a survivor of the famous Argonne battle of WWI and later in the novel describes the horror of losing his best friend and saving the lives of two other friends, one, John, who becomes a good friend of Mariella. These are men who are wounded beyond physical problems but who survive to live life to the fullest. In one way, Mariella's relationship with these three men and her family are a beautiful coming of age story, about the difference between real love borne from the highs and lows that life throws in one's path.
The rest of the story depicts riveting scenes of illness, accidents, betrayal, a terrible storm, revelation of a secret, and letters of truth and honesty. Hemingway's Girl is a stunning, amazing read - a superb work of historical fiction that deserves best-seller status!!!