Just when I thought I’d read every single novel about Hemingway, well, here comes a new one. And it’s written by a favorite author, Paula McClain. She said, quite defiantly, after publishing THE PARIS WIFE that she was done with Hemingway. But sometimes stuff happens…. She actually dreamed she was on Hemingway’s boat Pilar with him when she saw a blonde woman onboard. This woman was Martha Gellhorn. And McClain just had to write this story.
Martha Gellhorn, Hemingway’s third wife, is the only one who actually left him. He had met his match, no doubt of that. Hemingway was a different man when he met Martha. He was more mature and at the top of his career. She was younger and he dubbed her “daughter.” They met in Key West at his favorite bar. She was with her mother and brother. He took them home to meet Pauline, the second wife…
This book is not all about Ernest Hemingway. It’s really about Martha Gellhorn
and her life as a journalist. Hemingway just happens to come along. To say Martha was a strong woman is a gross understatement. She was a powerhouse. But she was always struggling to keep up. Hemingway was so famous by the time they met. And she was only beginning.
There were parts of this book that I loved. I have always been intrigued with Hemingway’s time in Cuba. I didn’t realize that Martha actually found the house and carved it into a home for them. This section of the story is quite compelling for me. I learned something I didn’t already know. In fact, Martha’s story is engrossing. Her travels were far-reaching. She is sent to war- torn places such as Spain, Finland, and even China. All by the magazine she was writing for. Most times as the only woman journalist anywhere around. Fascinating.
Hemingway and Gellhorn were a force.
They couldn’t be apart and yet she yearned for adventure even as she told him she could not leave him. They were fire and ice. They were both so competitive. Once they were married their relationship began to quickly unravel. He wanted her to have a child, a little girl. And she began fading slowly away. She knew from experience that if she had a child she would no longer be able to work and travel. She would be home caring for the child while Ernest flew away into the sunset. He loved her independence and strength as much as he hated it.
Hemingway began to slip away, mentally. There are scenes at the end of this book that show his mental acuity going downhill. How he would prepare for being alone and shutting Martha out of his life because he simply could not cope with her being away from him. The tip of the iceberg toward the end of his sanity.
What did I think of this book? This intimate portrayal begged to be told. I love Paula McLain’s writing. I think she’s got a sure winner on her hands with LOVE AND RUIN. That is exactly what Gellhorn and Hemingway became.
LOVE AND RUIN by Paula McClain will be published on May 1. You are going to want to RUN to your nearest bookstore to get your copy. We will have copies in store on May 1 at Copperfish Books. They will be discounted 20% as most of our brand new hardcovers are. Come on in and see us. We love to talk books!
My review copy was provided by Random House. It’s a winner!