Andrea di Robilant's Autumn in Venice: Ernest Hemingway and His Last Muse chronicles more scrupulously than ever before the venerable writer's late-in-life infatuation with Adriana Ivancich, a young Venetian some thirty years his junior. Di Robilant—whose great-uncle socialized with Hemingway in the late 1940s and 1950s—argues that Adriana, the inspiration for Renata in the much-mocked novel Across the River and Into the Trees (1950), invigorated the faltering Hemingway as he entered his twilight years, despite the pain that his embarrassing courting caused his fourth wife, Mary Welsh, and the tabloid scandal that engulfed the Ivancich family. Although most likely unconsummated, the relationship was intensely affectionate and flirtatious, as correspondence on both sides reveals. In the #MeToo era, however, this May-December “affair” raises uncomfortable questions about the power imbalance between famous artists and their “muses” that di Robilant declines to examine directly. The result is a sometimes-frustrating read: an entertainingly novelistic, albeit inevitably saturnine, account of a once great literary lion foolishly chasing youth, but a portrait that does not bring clarity to the motives of its main protagonists.

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