A sensational bestseller when it appeared in 1986, The Garden of Eden is the last uncompleted novel of Ernest Hemingway, which he worked on intermittently from 1946 until his death in 1961. Set on the Côte d'Azur in the 1920s, it is the story of a young American writer, David Bourne, his glamorous wife, Catherine, and the dangerous, erotic game they play when they fall in love with the same woman. "A lean, sensuous narrative...taut, chic, and strangely contemporary," The Garden of Eden represents vintage Hemingway, the master "doing what nobody did better" (R. Z. Sheppard, Time).
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December 31, 1985
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Excerpt from The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway
They were living at le Grau du Roi then and the hotel was on a canal that ran from the walled city of Aigues Mortes straight down to the sea. They could see the towers of Aigues Mortes across the low plain of the Camargue and they rode there on their bicycles at some time of nearly every day along the white road that bordered the canal. In the evenings and the mornings when there was a rising tide sea bass would come into it and they would see the mullet jumping wildly to escape from the bass and watch the swelling bulge of the water as the bass attacked.
A jetty ran out into the blue and pleasant sea and they fished from the jetty and swam on the beach and each day helped the fishermen haul in the long net that brought the fish up onto the long sloping beach. They drank aperitifs in the cafe on the corner facing the sea and watched the sails of the mackerel fishing boats out in the Gulf of Lions. It was late in the spring and the mackerel were running and fishing people of the port were very busy. It was a cheerful and friendly town and the young couple liked the hotel, which had four rooms upstairs and a restaurant and two billiard tables downstairs facing the canal and the lighthouse. The room they lived in looked like the painting of Van Gogh's room at Arles except there was a double bed and two big windows and you could look out across the water and the marsh and sea meadows to the white town and bright beach of Palavas.
They were always hungry but they ate very well. They were hungry for breakfast which they ate at the cafe, ordering brioche and caf ' au lait and eggs, and the type of preserve that they chose and the manner in which the eggs were to be cooked was an excitement. They were always so hungry for breakfast that the girl often had a headache until the coffee came. But the coffee took the headache away. She took her coffee without sugar and the young man was learning to remember that.
On this morning there was brioche and red raspberry preserve and the eggs were boiled and there was a pat of butter that melted as they stirred them and salted them lightly and ground pepper over them in the cups. They were big eggs and fresh and the girl's were not cooked quite as long as the young man's. He remembered that easily and he was happy with his which he diced up with the spoon and ate with only the flow of the butter to moisten them and the fresh early morning texture and the bite of the coarsely ground pepper grains and the hot coffee and the chickory-fragrant bowl of caf ' au lait.