It was the glittering intellectual world of 1920s Paris expatriates in which Pauline Pfeiffer, a writer for Vogue, met Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley among a circle of friends that included Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos, and Dorothy Parker. Pauline grew close to Hadley but eventually forged a stronger bond with Hemingway himself; with her stylish looks and dedication to Hemingway’s writing, Pauline became the source of “unbelievable happiness” for Hemingway and, by 1927, his second wife.
Pauline was her husband’s best editor and critic, and her wealthy family provided moral and financial support, including the conversion of an old barn to a dedicated writing studio at the family home in Piggott, Arkansas. The marriage lasted thirteen years, some of Hemingway’s most productive, and the couple had two children. But the “unbelievable happiness” met with “final sorrow,” as Hemingway wrote, and Pauline would be the second of Hemingway’s four wives.
Unbelievable Happiness and Final Sorrow paints a full picture of Pauline and the role she played in Ernest Hemingway’s becoming one of our greatest literary figures.
“[A] significant contribution to setting the record straight”
—Publishers Weekly, April 2012
“A major scholarly accomplishment—authoritative, thoroughly researched, pioneering, and ably written…. a must for Hemingway scholars, teachers, and aficionados.”
—Anne Marie Candido in Arkansas Historical Quarterly
“Anyone interested in Hemingway’s life between 1927 and 1940 should consult this book.”
—The Hemingway Review, Fall 2012
“Because Pauline was a private person and the only one of Hemingway’s four wives to precede him in death, Ernest’s self-serving account of their relationship and of the Pfeiffer family’s influence on him has unfortunately been the primary source for Hemingway scholars. Hawkins’s book is a welcome corrective.”
—Norman E. Stafford in Arkansas Review, 2012
“No one in America knows more about the Pfeiffer family and the crucial Hemingway-Pfeiffer marriage than Ruth A. Hawkins. The book she offers represents years of close scholarship and is told with respect, literary grace, and blunt honesty. In many ways, this is a revisionist work on the Hemingway myth. I found myself learning something new on almost every page.”
—Paul Hendrickson, author of Hemingway’s Boat
“A riveting portrait of a marriage, and a fascinating biography of Pauline Pfeiffer, the most intriguing—and most misunderstood—of the Hemingway wives. This compelling story about the Hemingway/Pfeiffer relationship significantly enriches our understanding of this complicated man, and, along the way, introduces us to a new heroine in the Hemingway saga.”
—Mary Dearborn, author of Mailer: A Biography
“Ruth Hawkins has written a marvelous book and a major account of the most productive period of Hemingway’s life. Hawkins weaves Ernest’s marriage to Pauline into an absorbing story that breaks new ground and reveals the importance of Hemingway’s relationship to the entire Pfeiffer family. This book has clearly earned a place on the shelf with the other major Hemingway biographies.”
—Carl Eby, author of Hemingway’s Fetishism
“Hemingway’s other wives spoke, but Pauline didn’t, making her the least understood of the four women. She never stopped loving Ernest, and the reverse is also true. Hawkins’s book, particularly the closing, tells Pauline’s story—and stuns.”
—John Fenstermaker, Hemingway scholar