Love and Ruin by Paula McLain

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Love and Ruin by Paula Mclain

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This historical fiction is based on the real life marriage of Ernest Hemmingway and Martha Gellhorn (whose name tried to autocorrect as I wrote this….which is a travesty).

I’m not going to pretend that I knew all that much about Martha Gellhorn before diving into this book.  And while a fan of some of Hemingway’s work, I was more of a fan of his house in Key West overrun with six-toed cats.  This book paints a devastating picture of a woman trying to “have it all” with a tempestuous (insert another word for verbally abusive and jerkish) man considered a “genius” at the time.

Martha Gellhorn became one of the fiercest women reporters of wartime, embedding herself in with the Spanish Civil War.  She survived bombings, midnight raids, and even crossed borders by herself in a time when women weren’t exactly expected to that.  Even when forbidden to go over and cover D-Day, she snuck onto a hospital ship and was one of the first reporters on the scene of the devastating attack.

All that pales in comparison to her crazy war like marriage to Hemingway.  The book does a good job of showing Martha trying not to lose herself, even when faced with the love of her lifetime in Hemingway.    They met while he was still married, and she was still living at home.  It wasn’t until they were together in Spain covering the war that they began their affair.  Through the Spanish Civil War, life in Cuba, and his divorce, the book follows the years they were together and while they were apart.  It’s not a very flattering portrait of Hemingway, but it made me want to learn so much more about Gellhorn.  What an amazing woman who had one weakness which was Ernest and their life in Cuba.

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