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The Garden of Eden

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  12,179 Ratings  ·  782 Reviews
A sensational bestseller when it appeared in 1986, The Garden of Eden is the last uncompleted novel of Ernest Hemingway, which he worked on intermittently from 1946 until his death in 1961. Set on the Côte d'Azur in the 1920s, it is the story of a young American writer, David Bourne, his glamorous wife, Catherine, and the dangerous, erotic game they play when they fall in ...more
Paperback, 248 pages
Published 2003 by Scribner (first published 1985)
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88th out of 485 books — 1,920 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jason Koivu
Jul 11, 2014 Jason Koivu rated it it was ok
Hemingway knows how to draw up a batshit crazy lady...but to be honest, I'm not even sure this is a genuine Ernest Hemingway novel. It might be a forgery. But we'll get to that later.

The Garden of Eden puts a newlywed couple's relationship under the microscope. David and Catherine are honeymooning in the Mediterranean. David is a writer. Catherine is a crazy bitch. David needs a security, time to write and support in his pursuits. Catherine needs occupation. She has too much time on her hands t
Jul 23, 2007 Sylvia rated it it was amazing
this is one of hemingway's most fascinating character studies, and like all his heroines in all of his books, i sort of fell in love with her. how i feel about this book is complicated and not for the faint of heart -- i love it, yes. but i almost feel a little invaded ... i had this idea in my head of this summer on the mediterranean when i was like, 14, and then to read this book ... well, it was wonderful and shocking in its truthfulness.

i still sometimes want to escape to live in this painfu
Oct 04, 2007 Scott rated it it was amazing
I can understand why many readers, especially Hemingway fans, would find this book (as well as Islands in the Stream, for that matter) to be a pointless slog through the authors psyche. The story is kind of weird, there isn't any action to speak of, the girlfriend swap is Hemingway at his most mysoginistic, and the book is unfinished, but Hemingway's beautiful portrayals of the people and places are what make Garden of Eden my most favorite book. I know this is the cheeziest line of all time (bu ...more
Feb 21, 2009 Ann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was bothering me through the first hundred or so pages of this book. Suddenly I realized – Garden of Eden is terrible. Just awful! Let me explain.

I adore the Hemingway canon top to bottom, even those weirdo bullfighting stories in Death in the Afternoon, and long ago came to terms with his manifold flaws as a person. But flaws outweigh brilliance here: the thing feels like it was written through a mist of fear and anger (towards women, fathers, homosexualit
Jan 29, 2009 Jennifer rated it really liked it
I read this book for a college course and was dreading it. I thought - here we go - another book with manly hunter Hemingway about war and bullfighting and all things manly. Ugh! Oh but it was not to be. This book turned me around on Hemingway and made me see the genius that he is. Sadly the book is published posthumously and it is questionable how much Hemingway is in this book - but when I read this I did not know there was a lot of controversy surrounding this and just enjoyed it for what it ...more
Dec 09, 2007 Kaarin rated it really liked it
I'm guessing that I came at Hemingway in a completely different way from most readers in that this posthumously published book was one of the first things that I ever read by him. And it was sort of an "a-ha" moment; so *this* is what they mean by the clean and lean Hemingway style... I fell into this book effortlessly, read it quickly, and was very affected (and impressed)by it. I know it's considered one of his inferior works, but who cares. I loved it.
Nov 08, 2007 Matt rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people interested in relationships
Shelves: recommended
I love this book. I know a lot of people tend to bash it because it was released posthumously, in edited form, but I think it's brilliant as-is. The beginning of the book in particular, I like. Hemingway's simple description of eating eggs for breakfast makes me feel as if I'm at the table as well. It really paints a picture for me. To me, it seems that Hemingway probably never released this book more because of the subject matter than because of any writing flaws. In short, a tale of innocence ...more
André Shart
Feb 26, 2015 André Shart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books, reviewed
Este livro revelou-se uma boa surpresa — a princípio adorei-o, depois comecei a sentir alguma repulsa pelas personagens e por fim conformei-me com o rumo que as coisas tomaram, já que não me cabia a mim alterá-lo.

Que história tão macabra e perturbante! Não me recordo de alguma vez me ter deparado com uma personagem tão tresloucada quanto esta Catherine Bourne, mimada, arrogante e manipuladora, cujo nome do meio não pode ser outro que não desumana. Pobre David, o jovem recém-marido, que acarreto
David Lentz
Jun 20, 2011 David Lentz rated it really liked it
In this novel Hemingway plays the simple triangle of two bi-sexual women and a straight man for all it's worth. In the last published novel of Hemingway's the lean, muscular dialogue still rings clear and honest and true. The narrative is clean, compelling and minimalistic with details in the narrative that breed not only credibility but also trust in the verity of the narrator. I wondered if F. Scott Fitzgerald's many trials with Zelda, as Hemingway was a trusted confidant of Scott, had left mo ...more
There are numerous book descriptions here at GR. This says what you need to know:

"A sensational bestseller when it appeared in 1986, The Garden of Eden is the last uncompleted novel of Ernest Hemingway, which he worked on intermittently from 1946 until his death in 1961. Set on the Côte d'Azur in the 1920s, it is the story of a young American writer, David Bourne, his glamorous wife, Catherine, and the dangerous, erotic game they play when they fall in love with the same woman...."

The book was
Mar 31, 2008 Karl rated it liked it
Not my favorite Hemingway, though I understand why it was recommended to me: there is a lot of drinking in it. I think my problem with the book was that it kind of wanders around not really getting to the point, which is probably a result of the book being released posthumously. The book revolves around a newly wed couple vacationing in France/Spain in the late 1920's. The couple gets up every morning, goes for a swim, wanders the countryside, and drinks in the cafes. I did really enjoy the way ...more
It is difficult not to relate the words of the writer-protagonist of The Garden of Eden to the novel itself:
This was the first writing he had finished since they were married. Finishing is what you have to do, he thought. If you don't finish, nothing is worth a damn. (108)
Hemingway worked on The Garden of Eden for fifteen years, starting in 1946, but never finished it. After Hemingway shot himself with his favorite shotgun, his widow Mary carried the manuscript of The Garden of Eden in a shopp
Mar 28, 2010 Caris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
The introduction tells the brief story of how the manuscript for this book was discovered after Hemingway’s death. It was unfinished, but they decided to publish the first half of it because it stood by itself as a cohesive work of merit.

Why the fuck people do this, I will never understand.

That’s not entirely true. It’s done for money. But still. It gets me the same way abridgments do. What makes an editor or a family member decide that they know a work better than the person who wrote it? It se
Sep 10, 2011 Stan rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 04, 2009 rachelm rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, france
This unfinished, posthumously published work continued my love/hate relationship with Hemingway. I love the characteristically strong and lovely prose and understated emotional subtext. I hate the fact that the character described on the back cover as Hemingway's most complex female character is a mentally ill and destructive woman deeply jealous of her husband's writing career, and that a relationship between two women is at one point described as something "women do when they don't have any be ...more
Apr 08, 2013 Manny rated it really liked it
After the publication of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is The Night, Hemingway wrote to Fitzgerald, a letter criticizing him on his failure as a writer. Here are a few select excerpts from that letter:

"Goddamn it you took liberties with people's pasts and futures that produced not people but damned marvellously faked case histories."

"...I've always claimed that you can't think."

"Invention is the finest thing but you cant invent something that would not actually happen."

"Of all people on earth
Feb 16, 2011 Kathryn rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
This book is complicated. No, the book is fairly straight forward, in most ways. How I feel about this book is complicated. First, I will say that I am exceedingly happy to have read it. The story and characters were fascinating. I only now thought that, as the story needed to marinate in my brain a little more than is usually required.

I want to pick the book apart, talk about the (crazy) characters, but I am incapable of doing so without mentioing unforgivable spoilers. I had issues with the ch
Marcus Schantz
Sep 08, 2013 Marcus Schantz rated it it was amazing
I don't give many novels five star ratings but here it is deserved. This is a very heavy dose and caused an emotional reaction in myself that few books have. I was stunned while reading because of the issues and topics it deals with. Though written a long time ago, it's somehow modern and relevant. I know this story is loosely based on Hemingway's life and readers of a "A Moveable Feast" will quickly recognize and understand.
Mar 15, 2013 Shauna rated it it was amazing
This book is part reflection on the writing process, part portrait of a couple's descent into jealousy, and demise. Leading man David is successfully paring down his writing to its perfect, whole centre, while fracturing his already perfect marriage by adding another person to it.

Great lines: "He had not known just how greatly he had been divided and separated because once he started to work he wrote from an inner core which could not be split nor even marked nor scratched. He knew about this an
Dec 30, 2011 Ivana rated it it was amazing
This book is not Hemingway I'm used to but it may just be the best Hemingway ever. It's really a fascinating read. I've always liked Hemingway. He writes such highly readable stuff, and does it with such ease. However, "The Garden of Eden" feels like something more. This novel is different,but in a good way,in a way it's more than I expected... it feels different. It has all those qualities one appreciates in Hemingway- that simple way of saying things- yet it shows a more vulnerable (and more i ...more
Feb 03, 2009 Jessie added it
I could read this over and over and never get tired of it. It has been at the top of my favorite books list for a very long time. It's simple andIt's sparse and yet it speaks volumes about love and sex and men and women and our humanity and our imperfection. It's posthumous and even though it's different from everything else he wrote, it's still Papa.
Jun 07, 2015 Palivo rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
"Já taky spal."
"Já vím. Je to tak zvláštní."
"Zvláštní ne."
"Tak ne, jestli chceš. Je báječné jak se k sobě hodíme. Budeme spát?"
"Chceš spát?"
"Chci, abychom oba spali."
"Pokusím se."
"Už spíš?"
"Pokus se o to."
"Pokouším se."
"Tak zavři oči."
"Chci tě vidět ráno celou novou."
"Vymyslela jsem to dobře?"
"Už nemluv."
"Je to jediný způsob jak vše zpomalit. Nemohl bys promluvit?"

Vůbec se nedivím, že Hemingway psal tuto knihu patnáct let, protože tak dementní dialogy člověk nevymyslí za rok ani za d
Jan 19, 2014 Brennan rated it it was amazing
Very soon into Hemingway’s Garden of Eden, I began getting this “sudden empty feeling in [my] gut”—precisely what David Bourne, the novel’s lead character, experiences when he encounters the reality of his dysfunctional marriage. This emptiness became so pointed that I began reading the novel in small doses.

Now that I have finished and taken time to reflect, I have decided that my feelings were the result of a repeated search for meaning that came up empty. Every time I invested in the story of
Cheryl Klein
Mar 07, 2013 Cheryl Klein rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, classics
In a post-Midnight in Paris world, Hemingway sounds a lot like a parody of Hemingway. But once I got past that, I fell in love with the language and wanted to spend an infinite vacation motoring around Europe, boating and swimming and chatting up local fisherman, eating brioche and drinking whiskey with Perrier and getting my hair done every three days. And once I got past THAT, I realized, Oh, this is one of those Bitches Be Crazy books in which an absurd female disrupts the creativity of a man ...more
Oct 05, 2008 Laurann rated it did not like it
I didn't finish reading this book. I didn't like it...I expected something completely different. I had never read hemmingway before and wanted to give it a try. The book is choppy and hard to follow. I could never figure out the story line or point it was boring and after months and months of forcing myself to read one page at a time I gave up. I am embarrased to say. I gave up.. i disagreed with a lot of the principles he wrote about in the book. And although i realize it is important to have t ...more
Nov 02, 2008 Chloe rated it liked it
Recommended to Chloe by: Stacie Sather
If I take anything away from this book, it should be the opening into understanding Hemingway's style that was written as clearly as anything else he's ever written:

"Be careful, he said to himself, it is all very well for you to write simply and the simpler the better. But do not start to think so damned simply. Know how complicated it is and then state it simply. Do you suppose the Grau du Roi time was all simple because you could write a little of it simply?"

I'm sure I'll have more to say lat
Jan 19, 2016 Andreuta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Se luara in brate si el simti cum redevine intreg. Nu-si daduse seama exact cat de divizat fusese, cat de impartit, asta pentru ca de cand se apucase de lucru scrisese din miezul acela tare din interior, care nu putea fi impartit, nu putea fi atins de nimic, nu putea fi nici macar zgariat cat de cat."

"Cand se-ntoarse-n camera nu-l mai gasi pe David - ramase mult timp in picioare uitandu-se la pat, dupa care se duse si deschise usa de la baie si ramase asa, privindu-se in oglinda inalta. Fata ii
Jun 18, 2014 Shane rated it it was ok
I have become increasingly disappointed in reading the posthumous novels of Hemingway: Islands in the Stream, Under Kilimanjaro and now this one. It’s as if the publishers were trying to squeeze every ounce of value from the scraps left behind by this tortured genius who exited the literary scene too early. I am sure Hemingway the perfectionist would have objected to these works being published in the state they were in had he been alive.

The Garden of Eden tells the story of a threesome, a newly
So gutted that Hemingway killed himself before this got finished so I don't get to know what will happen but it is brilliant.. so taut, so fascinating a novel in a way. It is about a newly married couple and there is a really good character study of the wife in it. She wants to be a boy and she's a little crazy.

One of Hemingway's own sons, Gregory, was a transsexual and Hemingway sadly rejected him for that, so obviously this is an interesting piece of biography to know about, whether or not it
Jul 05, 2011 Danielle rated it it was amazing
Love it! It's dark, it's sensual, it's confusing, it's weird (reversing gender roles?), it's a challenge! Definitely a book you'd have to pay attention to while reading it. Hemingway's language is so simple and subtle and yet this work is so deep and scandalous! I appreciate that this book isn't a vulgar sexfest, although David does get passed between the women (without complaint, mind you) regularly; "today you're mine, next two days you're hers", etc. This is the first Hemingway book I've read ...more
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Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economical and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He published seven novels, six short story collec ...more
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