This post appeared in November 2011. The kitty pictured above wasn’t Hemingway’s cat but she was the inspiration for the Magical Cool Cat Mysteries. The books don’t really do her justice. She died unexpectedly and I’m just grateful now that I knew her in one of her nine lives.
Early readers of this blog — Hi Deb! Hi Ann! Hi Jane! — know that in July, after I read Paula’s McLain’s brilliant book, The Paris Wife, I posted that Hemingway’s Cat is Missing.
I explained that I felt drawn to The Paris Wife, Paula McLain’s novel written from the perspective of Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley, because A Moveable Feast, Hemingway’s own memoir of Roaring Twenties Paris, has passages that remain indelible to me today —- though I read it long ago. One is mentioned in the blurb of The Paris Wife: Hemingway returns after several days in a love nest with Pauline, who becomes his second wife, and sees his first wife Hadley, standing with his son, waiting for him at the train station, and wishes he had died before he loved anyone but her.
And Hemingway describes waking to a Paris morning, sharing breakfast with his son, nicknamed Bumby, and his cat, nicknamed F. Puss, and calls them good company. Denouncing as ignorant anyone who states a cat will suck a baby’s breath, Hemingway vividly portrays F. Puss as Bumby’s babysitter, guarding him in the crib. I envisioned a purring, fluffy cat lulling Bumby to sleep.
So I was part way through The Paris Wife, and feeling transported to 1920s Paris with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein and John Dos Passos, among the people the Hemingways knew, when I thought, Where is the cat? Surely the cat entered Hadley’s consciousness. I kept reading this beautifully written book expecting at least a line for F. Puss —- maybe watching Parisian birds from a window, grooming a paw after sharing Papa’s meal, or nuzzling Bumby in his crib. I finished the book. Hemingway’s cat is missing.
UPDATE: Later, I emailed Paula McLain and asked about Hemingway’s beloved cat, F. Puss. Paula McLain graciously replied and said that when Hadley was interviewed about F. Puss, and the great babysitting service F. Puss provided, Hadley said that Hemingway built it up too much. Mystery solved. I think we can also surmise that when F. Puss meowed for breakfast, Hemingway lept up to serve breakfast while Hadley slept.