George Callahan is a teacher in awe of Hemingway. ‘Papa’ Hemingway is his role model, his favourite writer and almost his everything. His girlfriend Bertha, on the other hand, is pretty annoyed by George talking, breathing and eating Hemingway. The only thing that would make her change her mind on the subject would be a free trip to Paris, courtesy of Papa.
But that’s not exactly what happens.
George is the finalist, along with another teacher, of a prestigious grant that the Hemingway Historical Society created to celebrate the birthday of ‘The Sun Also Rises’. The final decision will be announced during a celebration weekend in New York. And while Bertha promised to go, she changes her mind at the last minute, forcing George to go alone.
It’s not a big deal, though, because George, being a huge fan, already has some places he absolutely wants to see, to retrace the steps of Papa and his life in New York. One of those places is Scribner, the bookshop on 5th Avenue that saw the likes of Fitzgerald and Hemingway selling their books there. For George this is the apotheosis of his existence.
While browsing in the bookshop, his path crosses with a redhead, whose name is Darcie Davenport. She works for a second hand bookshop and she is scouting for books, basket in hand. Darcie is also is a great fan of Papa, and in the spur of the moment George shows her the very reason why he’s the grant’s finalist: a first edition of ‘The Sun Also Rises’. By mistake (or maybe a bearded ghost might have played his part *wink, wink*) the book falls into her basket, and by the time George realises what happened, it’s too late. Darcie already brought the basket of books to her workplace, which closed for the day.
From here, an incredible adventure to find the lost book starts, consisting of: tricking the mob, getting help from a group of drag queens, pretending to be FBI agents and becoming single. Spoiler alert: George and Darcie fall in love in the end.
‘The Redhead Who Loves Hemingway’ is undoubtedly a good book: a great plot that goes forward and doesn’t derail (even if it might appear surreal at times), dialogues are natural, the narrative is clear, concise and sharp. Humour and adventure blend very well, and the romantic element is intertwined with the historical one.
A nice read overall, but not your conventional romance story, where every single action brings (or should bring) the reader one step closer to having the two main characters helplessly falling in love. This is romantic fiction with a happy ending.
Having followed Ivan’s writing career over the last few years (‘A Redhead in a Blue Convertible’ was one of our lockdown reads) , we are actually pleasantly surprised by his latest book: we could really see and feel the difference, surely made of a lot of practice and sacrifice. Excellent job!