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Reviewed by Barbara Oliverio for Readers' Favorite
Callie McGraw in Finding Hemingway by Ken Dortzbach is a hard-charging New York attorney with a passion for the novel The Sun Also Rises. Following a layoff, she has six months until her next job, a robust severance in the bank, and a bit of an existential crisis. Imagine Callie’s surprise when she receives a phone call from the late Ernest Hemingway challenging her to find him (and herself in the process) in Spain. Thus commences an odyssey in Barcelona with a stop in Madrid, finally moving to Pamplona, site of the famous running of the bulls. Along the way, Callie encounters intriguing men, delicious food and drink, and intoxicating scenery. She also receives occasional enigmatic phone calls from her guide, Hemingway.
This book was superb. Ken Dortzbach spins a charming fictional tale in Finding Hemingway that is equal parts travelogue and self-discovery memoir, with just enough fantasy to make the story sparkle. I was captivated by Callie’s interaction with the cast of friends and lovers she collects along the way. As Hemingway challenges her and she ultimately faces her greatest demons, I cheered for her and felt that her six-month journey was exactly what she needed before embarking on her new life in San Francisco. Reading this book conjured up personal memories of sun-dappled Barcelona days, and nights relishing many delicious paellas. Pour a glass of sangria and settle in for a satisfying read about a winsome heroine who learns to take Hemingway’s advice and live life “all the way up.”