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In the autumn of 1948 Hemingway and his fourth wife travelled for the first time to Venice, which Hemingway called ‘a goddam wonderful city’. He was a year shy of his fiftieth birthday and hadn’t published a novel in nearly a decade.
At a duck shoot in the lagoon he met and fell in love with Adriana Ivancich, a striking Venetian girl just out of finishing school. Di Robilant – whose great uncle moved in Hemingway’s revolving circle of bon vivants, aristocrats, and artists – recreates with sparkling clarity this surprising, years-long relationship.
Hemingway used Adriana as the model for Renata in Across the River and Into the Trees, and continued to visit Venice to see her; the Ivanciches travelled to Cuba, placing Adriana beside him as he wrote The Old Man and the Sea.
This illuminating story of writer and muse – which also examines the cost to a young woman of her association with a larger-than-life literary celebrity – is an intimate look at the fractured heart and changing art of Hemingway in his fifties.
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