There are few surprises in this unilluminating account by di Robilant (Chasing the Rose) of Hemingway’s infatuation with a vivacious young Italian woman. The story begins in the fall of 1948, with Hemingway and his wife, Mary, setting off for Venice, where he hoped to finish an ambitious writing project. Writing in fits and starts, he went out duck hunting early one morning and met 18-year-old Adriana Ivancich, a socialite from a prominent local family. By the time the Hemingways left Venice the following spring, his writing was flowing on the novel that would become Across the River and into the Trees, and he’d transformed Adriana into his muse. The pair kept up their relationship, corresponding and meeting several more times, while Hemingway modeled the novel’s character of Renata on Adriana, and compelled his publisher to use her illustration for its cover, and another later for The Old Man and the Sea’s. In addition to Ivancich’s journals and Hemingway’s letters, di Robilant draws on his own great-uncle Carlo di Robilant’s recollections as a member of Hemingway’s circle at the time. Despite this personal connection, di Robilant’s account of a literary lion famous for his affairs reveals nothing particularly new about a much-written-about writer. Agent: Michael Carlisle, InkWell Management. (June)
A saga that grips and enthralls from start to finish . . . [di Robilant] has researched every scrap of information and gossip about this curious menage.” —The Times (London)
“The final turbulent decade of a life . . . di Robilant captures the full panoply of quirks and conflicts that often made Papa and those closest to him miserable. Lovers, ex-wives, friends, publishers, even complete strangers were forced to dance to the tune he piped . . . A diligent researcher of primary and secondary texts, [di Robilant] in this instance has a treasure trove of material.” —Michael Mewshaw, The Washington Post
“Effortlessly and expertly explores the secret desires, successes, and depressive obstacles that shrouded Ernest Hemingway’s final productive years.” —Michael Thomas Barry, New York Journal of Books
“Andrea di Robilant’s well-written book reads like a novel, not a biography, and avid readers, of any genre, should secure a copy for their own journeys this summer.” —Wayne Catan, Idaho Statesman
“Rich with new material, some based on Italian sources, di Robilant’s lively and affecting double portrait brings a fresh perspective to the much-examined life of an all-too-human writer.” —Steve Paul, Booklist (starred review)
“A sensitive recounting of a writer’s doomed fantasy.” —Kirkus Reviews
“One of the most wrenching and scandalous love stories in all of literary biography . . . di Robilant reconstructs their tale with remarkable precision and a wealth of unpublished materials . . . what emerges is an ample, finely detailed fresco of the last stage of Hemingway’s life, a kaleidoscopic succession of relationships, passions, trips, editorial disputes, drinking binges, set against the backdrop of northeast Italy . . . [Autumn in Venice] has all the intrigue and emotion of a novel.” —Pietro Spirito. Il Piccolo (Italy)
“An evocative and alluring tale of love and death . . . In his effusive letters to Adriana, Hemingway laid bare his extremely passionate, generous, and contradictory nature.” —Mirella Serri, La Stampa (Italy)
Passion, frustration, and anger erupted in Ernest Hemingway's last years.In 1948, visiting Venice with his wife, Mary, Hemingway (1899-1961) fell madly in love with 18-year-old Adriana Ivancich. Di Robilant (Chasing the Rose: An Adventure in the Venetian Countryside, 2014, etc.) draws on memoirs (including Adriana's), letters, and biographies to reconstruct the relationship—platonic, the author believes—and its impact on Hemingway's marriage, writing, and career; and on Adriana, whose behavior was circumscribed by Venetian society's "rigid rules of moral conduct." Meeting her around town, Hemingway seemed oblivious to the malicious gossip he was generating for Adriana and her family. He made no effort to conceal his feelings: One friend was shocked to see him "drool unashamedly over Adriana." Mary was willing to tolerate his infatuation as long as it remained platonic; it "was a price she was willing to pay if it made her husband happy and a nicer person to be around." But his happiness often did not extend to his treatment of Mary; compared with Adriana, she seemed "drab" and "increasingly irritating." The marriage was rocky, exploding into violent quarrels. The tension mounted after Adriana, at Hemingway's insistence, joined the couple at their home in Cuba. There, Mary read the galleys for Across the River and into the Trees, about an older man remembering his adoration for a younger woman, obviously modeled on Adriana. Mary deeply disliked the novel, as did many reviewers when it appeared in 1950. His next novel, The Old Man and the Sea, a book encouraged by Adriana, was more warmly received. Like many other biographers, di Robilant portrays Hemingway as pathetic, petulantly envious of other writers' successes, often enraged and cruel, and suffering from depression, illnesses, injuries, and the deleterious effects of a lifetime of hard drinking. By the time he won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1954, he was too ill to travel to Sweden. He killed himself in 1961, and Adriana, after suffering decades of depression, killed herself some two decades later.A sensitive recounting of a writer's doomed fantasy.
A tapped-out Hemingway hadn't published a novel in years when he visited Venice in 1948. There, he fell in love with beautiful young Adriana Ivancich, eventually using her as the model for Renata in Across the River and into the Trees. Di Robilant (A Venetian Affair) comes naturally by this story; his great-uncle partied with Hemingway.