The author begins with the description of Paris in fall, a city affected by the bad weather. The author then describes a coffee where the people are always drunk and sad. Hemingway is affected by the cold but he refuses to buy twigs or anything to burn because he is afraid it will be a waste of money.
Hemingway goes to the cafe where he starts writing. A beautiful woman enters the bar and Hemingway is almost immediately attracted by her and by her physique. When she leaver, Hemingway feels drained and without a purpose in life.
Hemingway returns home to his wife Hadley and on the road he begins to think that maybe they should leave Paris and move to another place where they can enjoy the little things in life. Hadley is excited to hear about the news, waiting eagerly to leave Paris and its gloominess.
When the couple returns, the city is no longer as gloomy as it was before and Hemingway feels once more inspired. He visits the museum regularly to look at different paintings and he also visits his friends, Gertrude Stein, and they talk about art for long periods of time. Gertrude is Hemingway’s mentor and she tries to help him in whatever way she can, sometimes criticizing his work and giving her opinion about its value.
In comparison with Hemingway, Stein is more interested in monetary gain than anything else and she tries to push Hemingway in the direction she considers as being the right one. Hemingway notes that while Stein criticizes his work, her pieces of writing are far from being perfect. In his opinion, they are too long and while they start good they decrease in quality as the novels progress.
While Hemingway respects Stein, he cannot understand her homosexual tendencies and he is criticized by her for this, claiming that his opinions make him appear uncultured. Stein believes homosexuality to be a disease and thus instead of accepting it he thinks that a homosexual person needs to be cured of it.
In the third chapter, Hemingway reveals that he did not have money to buy books and instead chose to become a member of a library to be able to rent them. Despite this, he and his wife were happy and waited the time when they will be able to afford every book they ever dreamt of.
When spring comes, their financial situation remains the same yet Hadley does not complain. Hemingway promises to take his wife to the horse races and even though they have no money to bet they are still excited with the prospect of going. They are told to bet on two horses and the win, thus now having enough money to live a comfortable life. Later that year, the win again and they feel financially stable at least for a short period of time. They decided to dine at an expensive restaurant and while there they see Joyce with his family, eating dinner.
Hemingway continues to bet on horses for some time but he gives it up when he realizes that he becomes too involved in the races. He starts however to bet on bike races but he feel better about betting on them since he considers that betting on bike races is not gambling.
Hemingway continues to spend his free time with Stein, talking about various authors and their contribution to the literary world. He soon learns to avoid mentioning certain writers as he knows it will upset Stein or that she will get offended if he were to speak ill of the writers who helped her advance her career. Stein also comments on Hemingway’s generation, calling it a lost one because they do nothing more than drink and try to forget the horrors they once suffered. While Hemingway is bothered by her comment, he decides to continue to remain friends with her.
When Hemingway runs out of money, he walks around town looking at the food the others could afford. Because Hemingway gave up journalism, he no longer had money to buy food. He tells Sylvia, one of his friends, about his money problems but he regrets after telling her about it.
Hemingway shows one of his one of his stories to Edward O’Brien and then decides to continue writing even though he continues to deal with physical hunger. He reaches the conclusion that a longer novel will bring him enough money to feed himself and his wife.
Hemingway moves above a coffee and he spends most of his time downstairs, talking with war veterans mutilated by the war. Hemingway ends up linking the company of the former soldiers better than he liked the company of the intellectual elite. The writers are usually drunk and like to boast whenever they have little money to spend. Hemingway tries to keep himself separated from them and to continue working hard. However, even though he works hard, he is always having money trouble and he notes sadly that working hard did not ensure him financial prosperity.
Hemingway also spends some of his time with Ezra Pound, a person who is the complete opposite of Hemingway and Stein. Hemingway likes to spend his free time with him even though he cannot understand why a person would associate himself with the people Ezra associates himself with.
The friendship between him and Stein grows distant after Hemingway goes to Stein while she is involved in sexual intercourse with her lover. After that, Hemingway is unable to regard Stein in the same way.
Hemingway meets with Walsh at Ezra’s house and Hemingway begins thinking about the success Walsh had in comparison with him. The two eat out one day and then Walsh tells Hemingway that he won the prize for a writing competition he participated in.
Hemingway likes reading the Russian writers but he is ridiculed by many for his interest in them. Hemingway also takes care of another poet named Dunning, who is dependent of opioids and who goes extended periods of time without eating. His efforts are however unsuccessful and he soon gives up.
Hemingway and his wife move to Austria after their son is born. The family falls into a confortable routine for a while until the weather changes and people begin dying because of the snow. Hemingway notes that the time they spent there were happy times both for him and his wife but that soon everything will change and his wife will end up marring someone else and be happier than he could ever make her.
In the next chapter, Hemingway talks about the time he meet another write, Scott Fitzgerald. Hemingway is affected by the first encounter he had with the author and they continue to meet after that regularly. The two plan a trip but when Hemingway is on the train he finds that Scott left Paris to go to an unknown destination. When Hemingway arrives in Lyon, he doesn’t find Scott but rather starts talking with a fire-eater who proposes to him to write stories together.
The next day, Scott arrives at the hotel as well and tells Hemingway that the reason why he was late was because his wife got sick. Scott expresses his fear of getting sick and makes Hemingway promise to take care of his wife and child should something happen to him. When they reach the hotel, Scott insists that someone bring him a thermometer but the waiter claims that the pharmacy is closed. When Hemingway returns home, he is happy to be near his wife and not in a complicated relationship like Scot and Zelda’s.
When Hemingway and his wife go to Scott’s house for dinner, they see that Zelda is drinking too much and that the relationship between the two is a tense one. It becomes clear that Scott was controlled by Zelda who made him fell less of a man but Hemingway tries to assure him that nothing was wrong with him and that he should try and be more independent.