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The Garden of Eden

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  15,845 ratings  ·  1,015 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 May 1st 1986)
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Fred Svoboda The manuscript indeed is in the Hemingway Collection of the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. There is a lot more there including other characters,…moreThe manuscript indeed is in the Hemingway Collection of the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. There is a lot more there including other characters, but the entire MS is unresolved. (less)

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3.73  · 
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 ·  15,845 ratings  ·  1,015 reviews


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Jason Koivu
Feb 04, 2012 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
...more
Sylvia
Jul 23, 2007 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
...more
Cheryl
Sep 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who wants a classic page-turner
Shelves: fiction, vintage
I like to see you in the morning all new and strange.

If lines like that one were sprinkled throughout this novel, this could have been poetry. Sometimes after reading books heavy in subject or content, I turn to books with a seemingly facile flow. Hemingway always manages to gift the kind of terseness one expects from his stylistic ease. Even then, I'm often perplexed after reading because although some pages leave me in awe, I still find some chunks wanting. Yet I've been convinced enough to
...more
Luís C.
His latest novel.
Despite its unfinished form, probably one of its best.
The sensuality and the languor that emerges as well as the ambiguity of the characters in this triangular relationship are remarkable.
And as always the dialogues and the silences of Hemingway.
A masterpiece without question.
Scott
Oct 04, 2007 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 author's 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 (b ...more
Ann
Feb 21, 2009 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
...more
Thomas
Nov 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Published after Hemingway's death, The Garden of Eden stands as his last novel, and it shows his growth and struggle as a writer well. It includes topics that indicate Hemingway's willingness to write about eschewing society's norms: homosexual relationships, polygamy, androgyny, and more. Hemingway's portrayal of this subject matter shows both his development and his downfall. While he plays around with gender and sexuality in The Garden of Eden, his writing still has an unshakable undercurrent ...more
Petra
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Could I be becoming a Hemingway fan?! This story is incredible. The writing is descriptive without emotion, it pulls one in. The story is bizarre and keeps one guessing.

This is a strange story of want, desire and need. No matter what Want is satisfied, it doesn't quench the thirst or need. Catherine, in particular, needs/wants/desires more; when one desire is fulfilled, it is no longer wanted but something else is. There is no contentment.
There's also a power struggle of the sexes. Catherine is
...more
Jennifer
Jan 29, 2009 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
Rebecca
I find Hemingway offputtingly macho at the best of times, so I was surprised to learn he’s the favorite author of a go-getting feminist type from my neighborhood book club; she put this forward as our April selection. I hadn’t even heard of it before that point, probably because it was Hemingway’s second posthumous publication, not brought out until 1986 (25 years after his suicide). My main problems with it are that 1) it reads like an early draft of an early novel – unpolished and with no prop ...more
Kaarin
Dec 09, 2007 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.
Matt
Nov 08, 2007 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
David Lentz
Jun 20, 2011 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
Roberto
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: orgasmic
I'm going to try not to spoil my enjoyment of this book by writing an insightful kind of review. If you like it when Hemingway goes swimming, eats caviar and drinks whiskey and perrier, as opposed to the huntin', fightin', bull fightin' Hem, then this is just perfection. It is also a new, more interesting Hemingway. I loved the whole getting their hair cut bits, and the playful, surprising gender fluidity. When Hemingway is good, i just want to talk like Hemingway, walk like Hemingway, schmalk l ...more
Jay
Feb 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hemingway
At the time of his death in 1961, Hemingway had a large number of unpublished manuscripts in various stages of draft. Among them were three longer works that had engaged him off and on from the late 1940s: a manuscript about his years in Paris in the 1920s and that his widow, Mary, would publish in 1964 with the title of A Moveable Feast; several manuscripts that he referred to as his “Sea Book” or “Sea Novel” and that Mary would publish in 1970 under the title of Islands in the Stream; and the ...more
Daniel Villines
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Is it fair to love a book because I know so much about the author? This is a story about a writer, David Bourne, who is the typical Hemingway hero: sensitive but self-sacrificing, creative, satisfied by simple pleasures, and stoic. David is honeymooning in the French Riviera at a secluded hotel outside of Cannes and spends his mornings writing.

If this were all the book had to offer, the story would still be good, but knowing about Hemingway’s life makes this book extraordinary. By having read ab
...more
Steven
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 shoppi
...more
Karl
Mar 31, 2008 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
Chrissie
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
...more
Marcus Schantz
Sep 08, 2013 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.
Jessie
Feb 03, 2009 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.
Manny
Apr 08, 2013 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
...more
Shauna
Feb 16, 2013 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
...more
Ivana Books Are Magic
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I can’t recall whether I knew The Garden of Eden was unfinished prior to reading it, but I do remember that it didn’t feel unfinished. Before reading this novel, I always thought of Hemingway in a way a lot people probably do, enjoying his prose but not seeing beyond his macho persona. It took me a while to take a closer look into this fascinating author and to learn more about him. I can say with certainly that The Garden of Eden changed the way I thought about Hemingway as a writer. This book ...more
Brennan
Dec 27, 2013 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
...more
Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
In the Publisher's note, Charles A. Scribner writes that Mary Hemingway brought an overstuffed shopping bag into his office. In it were photocopies of (the now late) Ernest Hemingway's unpublished stories. Three works were longer. One of these was titled The Garden of Eden that Hem had been working on and off since 1946. His suicide in 1961 had left the manuscript partly finished. The first part that is now the published version of The Garden of Eden with minor edits to it. Scribner says that th ...more
Stan
Jul 22, 2009 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
rachelm
Nov 30, 2008 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
Kathryn
Nov 23, 2010 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
...more
Ivana
Dec 27, 2011 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
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Something Old, So...: July 2015 - The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway 1 10 Jul 04, 2015 02:10AM  

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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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