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Hemingway's Cuban Son Hardcover – May 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 157 pages
  • Publisher: The Kent State University Press (May 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0873389778
  • ISBN-13: 978-0873389778
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,707,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is the story of a poor, young Cuban boy who grew into a man and gained the trust and respect of a famous American author, whom he loved like a father. A man he called 'Papa'"

About the Author

Rene Villarreal now lives in Union City, New Jersey, after moving from Cuba in 1972. His son Raul Villarreal is an artist and currently lives in Verona, New Jersey.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By TK SANDERS on May 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Rene Villarreal was Ernest Hemingway's major domo, his butler, his personal assistant for many years at the Finca Vigia, the writer's home near Havana in Cuba. In her autobiography THE WAY IT WAS, Mary Hemingway, Ernest's wife, describes Rene as 'quiet, and well-mannered' a man who worked with 'goodwill and devotion'. And that is the way Villarreal comes across in this memoir, as a man who could be trusted to keep a secret, the consummate gentleman.
Now, in his late 70's, Rene Villarreal's memory is clear as a bell and his description of life with Hemingway is unique and humorous, personal, at times, and honest.
Somewhere along the way he picked up Papa's skill as a storyteller. With his son Raul as editor and interpreter, he describes daily life at the Finca Vigia...hearing Ernest wake in the bedroom above his quarters in the basement, going upstairs to prepare breakfast, counting repetitions while Hemingway did his morning exercises, and performing his most important duty...ensuring Papa was not disturbed when he was writing.
There are stories about the cats and dogs that roamed the house and grounds; the neighbourhood children sneaking over the fence to watch actress Ava Gabor swimming nude in the big pool. Ernest's volatile temper and stormy relationship with his wife, Rene often the mediator.
And there is the revelation of Rene's intimate and secret relationship with Adriana Ivancich, the teenager from an aristocratic Italian family with whom Hemingway had become infatuated. But it was Rene with whom Adriana chose to share intimacy
As Rene described it, 'She was beautiful and her lips were sweet. She felt like heaven.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael B on August 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book made me want to visit the finca. I didn't even need a tour guide, as Villarreal was able to weave so many details about it into his story. The ending is fascinating as well, as it involved Castro's interest in Hemingway. It's written pretty objectively, though it's clear that the author greatly admired the writer.
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Format: Hardcover
"Hemingway's Cuban Son" by Rene Villarreal is a gem- a behind the scenes look at the life of Ernest Hemingway as shared by his long time Senior Housekeeper and Majordomo. Rene Villarreal worked for Hemingway from 1945 until the author left Cuba in 1960, but Villarreal had known Hemingway for more than 20 years because his family lived near the Finca Vigia, Hemingway's home in the hills above Havana. Villarreal conveys the daily activities of Hemingway's life and the events which occurred in a delightful way, allowing the reader to feel as if they're walking the steps of the home and strolling by the huge ceiba tree which was Hemingway's favorite. You can almost sense the household cats brushing by your leg and feel the cool evening breezes as they go through this home which was Hemingway's favorite of all the places he lived. This house was where he wrote "The Old Man and the Sea" and later received the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize for literature, cavorted with his many local and international friends and even swam naked in the pool. Famous visitors included Ava Gardner, Gary Cooper, Spencer Tracy and many others, along with dozens of notable dignitaries and statesmen from around the world.

In "Hemingway's Cuban Son" Villarreal achieves something rare- a concise, interesting and easy-to-read memoir of a very special time with a very special author, one which those in the literary world have ranked among the greatest authors of the 20th century.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By sofia acle on September 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Always been a Hemingway fan. Never had much info during the years he spent in Cuba. This book was wonderfully written, I think Hemingway would have enjoyed reading it as much as I did. Thanks!!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Reading this book let me go behind the hype and myth that represents Ernest Hemingway in the media. Rene's account let me feel his experience with Papa and the love he shared with him and his family, without any unnecessary sap or glorification. I already knew that "Mr. Way" was a great storyteller and much adored by the world. Now I know him as a man of integrity and caring and passion. But more, I got to feel a bit of apolitical life in Cuba even as revolution was coming on in the country and Castro was taking a personal interest in Hemingway's estate and in his majordomo, Rene Villareal. This is very much Rene's personal story, not another biography and not an attempt to sum up the author. Perhaps because of this, we get a better picture. Rene and his son Raul are themselves excellent storytellers.
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