For all this, Wood succeeds remarkably well in capturing the best-known voice, that of Hemingway himself, whose dialogue is almost entirely convincing. With anyone else, lines such as "I'm cockeyed crazy about you, Rabbit" would sound absurdly mannered, but Wood is right to think that, with Hemingway, you cannot take it too far. She could have gone further, though, in her psychological analysis of the hero (or villain) of the story. The motivation behind Hemingway's continual desire for marriage remains mysterious.
The elegiac final chapters depicting the aftermath of Hemingway’s suicide are beautifully achieved. Hemingway himself attains a sorrowful grandeur in old age, even if his self-loathing, misogyny, violence, alcoholism, paranoia and refusal (or inability) to choose happiness in life over art never win you over. What lingers is Mary’s enduring courage as she faces the loneliness that Hemingway tried so hard to avoid.
Many questions remain. Wood’s impressionist method offers snapshots of a marriage rather than a portrait of an age. But the elegant prose and finely-wrought narrative of this humane novel exceed the sum of its parts.