Love and Ruin

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

Love Love Loved this book.  Love and Ruin follows the relationship between Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway. The book follows their relationship from Key West, to the Spanish War, Cuba, Finland, China, Sun Valley and the beaches of Normandy,  While Ernest is writing For Whom the Bell Tolls, Martha is working on her own novel and corresponding from war locations throughout World War 2.  This was a very well written and captivating read.  Upon finishing, I was immediately drawn to learn more about Martha and take a look at her novels and publications. Be sure to read the Author's Note at the end. 

I received an Advanced Reader Copy via NetGalley.
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Loved the way Gellhorn was portrayed. Her struggles in both personal and professional life. Determined to pursue her passion with the odds against her - female, married to Hemingway overshadowing her writing talent, the era attempting to fence her journalistic pursuits, always the compromising partner with a man who is accustomed  to the world kowtowing to his needs, you know the road will be more than bumpy. 

Gellhorn was a perfect example of the heart struggling with the mind. Her gut instinct told her to remove herself from Hemingway but the pull of the heart wins the tug of war. Both free spirits, independent, in the same field, including Hemingway's deepening dark side it is a wonder how this couple lasted as long as they did albeit with extended separations mixed with ambitions causing their ultimate fall. 

Gellhorn is an empathetic voice, while Hemingway is portrayed as the misogynist, shellfish, pompous and cruel brute his reputation supports - at times he is warm and loving masking the fact he is a royal jerk, jarring the reader back to reality. 

Gellhorn a fierce woman with plenty of drive leading to success in her own right.
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This story follows the love affair between Ernest Hemmingway and his third wife, Martha Gellhorn. Martha was a war correspondent. and writer that found herself drawn to the enigmatic personality of Ernest Hemingway. Martha was a very impressive woman that didn't fit inside the typical wife roles of that era This book opened my eyes to Martha's  triumphs and struggles as a woman, a writer, and being Hemmingway's wife.
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Love and Ruin by Paula McClain tells the story of Martha Gellhorn, Ernest Hemingway's third wife - yes...third. If you don't already know much about Ernest, this book will shed some light on the "man" he was. I use the word man loosely because while he was a brilliant writer, everything I've ever read about him clearly indicates that he was a whiny, childish, self-absored prick. He possessed very few qualities that I believe a real man should possess - namely the fact the he was a philandering asshole, and no self-respecting man spends his time falling in love with other women while he's married. But, that's not really what Love and Ruin is about (although you learn a lot of this!). Love and Ruin is about another woman that loved this impossible man and how she poured everything she had into him and almost lost herself in the process. 

Martha Gellhorn is a writer - she's a real woman as this novel is historical fiction - and on a trip to Key West with her mother and her brother stubmles into Ernest Hemingway's life. He's married to Pauline right now (wife #2 after Hadley - The Paris Wife - another amazing novel by McClain). He has two boys (three children total) and has somewhat settled down in Key West. After meeting Marty though, he finds a spark in her that seems to be missing from his life, and for her, he is her literary hero - her white whale - her giant of the page. And her fascination with him is real and binding. 

He takes such an interest in her and her writing as she's recently published her first novel, too and acts as mentor until they both land in Spain covering the war with Franco; that's when mentoring ends and a torrid and long love affair begins.

McCain captures the essences of their tragic love that is reminiscent of Wuthering Heights to me - both characters are flawed, both are deeply disturbed, and both are dreadfully dependent on each other. Their relationship is painted as a series of desperate attempts to control one another under the guise of love and failing miserably. We watch as she loses herself in him and then as she attempts to regain the strength and passion she once had for writing, he steals away bits and pieces of her out of spite. I found myself in awe of and angry at them both! Her for loving a married man and pursuing a relationship with him with very little resistance, and him for...well, see everything I wrote above. BUT - there's also something uniquely dynamic about Martha Gellhorn and her gumption to persist against the odds, her love for Ernest no matter how destructive, her maternal passion for his children, and her eye for finding the story of real people during tumultuous times. McCain makes her both a hellion and a hero.

McCain's writing is flawless. She stirs the reader right from the prologue with forceful introspective ideas, "It may be the luckiest and purest thing of all to see time slow to a single demanding point. To feel the world rise up and shake you hard, insisting that you rise, too, somehow..." to giving the reader an understanding of hope with the design of "...a talisman we were braiding back and forth, repeating the words without variation until they were links in a chain of hope, or faith, or whatever lies between."

She also exposed the life of a writer in these pages and many of the lessons I've taken to heart. Ernest Hemingway's comment that "if you force yourself into the yoke before dawn, you can do whatever yo like after," and her analysis of the writer noting, "[that] it had been my general understanding that if you were a writer, you pummeled your own soul until some words trickled out of the dry stream-bed, enough to fill a saucer or a teaspoon or an eyedropper. And then you wept a little, or gnashed your teeth, and somehow found the fortitude to get up the next day and do it again."

Love and Ruin not only gives insight into the life of Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway, but also into the life of a writer with all its disastrous beauty and dangerous liaisons of the heart and soul.

"The page was snowy white. It still held all of its secrets. There was nothing to do but begin."

I give this novel a resounding ☕☕☕☕☕ and recommend in to anyone that wants to real historical fiction done right. A truly great story - truly great writing.

I received this novel via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Love and Ruin will be published May 1, 2018. I'd reserve my copy now!
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I am a great admirer of Paula McLain and her novels, particularly The Paris Wife, and was excited to hear she was writing another novel based on the life of the always fascinating Hemingway. This “historical fiction” focuses on his stormy relationship with his third wife Martha (Marty) Gelhorn, a writer and war journalist. In a similar vein to her first 2 novels, Love and Ruin features strong women who lose their identities to the powerful force of Hemingway and their love and attraction to him and his charms. This was a compelling read; spanning the years of the Spanish Civil War, WWII and beyond. It delved into Hemingway’s relationships with his second wife and sons and his restlessness which led to his marriage failing. Hemingway was certainly larger than life and the attraction women had for him was understandable.. It was also interesting to see who Gelhorn tried to carve out her own career and identity, difficult enough for any woman at that time, made even more difficult when living in the shadow of Hemingway.
I enjoyed this book and the exploration of Hemingway and Gelhorn and what I learned about the difficult live of a war correspondent,
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Rating this book is very hard for me. I don't know enough about the subjects to comment on its authenticity, but when it was over, I found myself wanting to know more. I read somewhere that once you make it through the beginning chapters, it takes off, and that was true for me as well, as it is a slow starter. I always read comparisons to her other book, that this one was better or that that one was, but I didn't read it so I didn't have that comparison to relate it to. Just a very up and down book for me. I found myself wanting to know what happened next but when it came time to put it down and do other things, that was pretty easy to do. But an enjoyable read none the less.

Thank you to the author, Paula McLain, and the publisher, Random House, for making this available for me to read and review. 

Available: May 1, 2018
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Legendary twentieth century journalist Martha Gellhorn did not wish to be remembered as “Mrs. Ernest Hemingway.” “Why should I be merely a footnote in his life?” she is said to have asked.

What might she think then of Paula McLain’s Love and Ruin, a novel that casts the third Mrs. Hemingway as a starry-eyed, bed- and continent-hopper who used married men and wartime news correspondence as cover from growing up and who one day quite literally walked into a bar and met the greatest living celebrity novelist of her time? 

Over the course of her 40-year career as an author and war correspondent, Gellhorn distinguished herself in many ways, among them as the only woman journalist to land at Normandy with the famed 1944 D-Day invasion and as one of the first to report from Dachau concentration camp after its liberation in 1945. Yet in Love and Ruin, her character spends much of the book mewling about her rather dull and predictable relationship with the older married alcoholic Hemingway who, history knows, was better at amassing great literary achievements than great marital successes. 

Gellhorn should be a fascinating character. What makes the beautiful, educated daughter of a St. Louis doctor quest across the world in the 1930s to write and report from the front lines of war? Like pilot Amelia Earheart, writer Lillian Hellman, and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, all of whom get mention or cameos in Love and Ruin, Gellhorn was a trailblazing woman ahead of her time. But what was the fuel that lit her internal pilot light, and what inspiration can we draw from such dedication to a life’s work? McLain’s book stays notably uncurious on this topic, devoting itself instead to the mundane affair with Hemingway and to Gellhorn’s cycle of antsy escapism back to Europe where her work seems at times, between lovelorn glum spells, to have written itself.

McClain clearly admires and empathizes with Gellhorn. Oddly, it is the author's post-text acknowledgements, not the novel itself, that elicit true insight into the force that was Martha Gellhorn. I was indifferent as I read Love and Ruin; I cried when I read McClain’s final notes. In those closing paragraphs by a modern female writer about this pioneer who preceded her, I was overcome by the contributions and passion of two writer women. This was the story beneath the surface of Love and Ruin. I wish it was the story McLain had told.
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While I enjoy McLain’s writing style; this book wasn’t a clear winner to me. I felt like a lot of historical details were thrown at me in a raw, unnatural way. I would have loved for them to have been worked into the storyline a little better but overall I did enjoy this book.
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I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Love and Ruin represents another step in McLain's view of the loves of Ernest Hemingway. The moment that talented, daring Martha Gellhorn casually meets Hemingway in Key West her life is irrevocably changed. Although Hemingway is married to his second wife, Pauline, the attraction between Martha and Ernest is undeniable and, eventually, undenied.

Gellhorn's work as a war correspondent during the Spanish Civil War and World War II made her a famous writer. Her dangerous work for Collier's eventually caused an inevitable rift between the two since Ernest's jealous and selfish nature didn't allow another star in the family.

I usually don't like books where characters act selfishly wanton and then are wounded by the selfishness of others. McLain's successful The Paris Wife about the convergence of Hemingway, his first wife, Hadley, his infidelity, and his second wife, Pauline, is an example of a novel of mostly unlikeable people. Here, however, Martha is such a formidable independent presence that I ended up admiring her even as she stumbled. There are, however, numerous times where she is far too conciliatory toward Hemingway almost as an homage to his genius. 

McLain's latest novel Love and Ruin Is a great read.
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"It may be the luckiest and purest thing of all to see time slow to a single demanding point. To feel the world rise up and shake you hard, insisting that you rise, too, somehow. Some way. That you come awake and stretch, painfully. That you change, completely and irrevocably - with whatever means are at your disposal - into the person you were always meant to be."

As a fan of Paula McLain's previous works, I was thrilled to receive an ARC of her newest book, Love and Ruin, from Random House, in exchange for an honest review (thanks Random House!). I jumped into it right away, needing a break from my big YA kick as of late and hoping that some historical fiction / romance would be the cure. 

McLain does not disappoint. She's adept at taking historical figures and fictionalizing them in a way that is loving and respectful, even when the picture she is painting isn't always beautiful. This time around her subject is Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway, as she traces their love story from its illicit beginnings during his marriage to Pauline Pffifer through to it's (yes, you guessed it..) ruin. I had a passing familiarity with Gellhorn as a journalist, but didn't know much about her, at least in comparison to Hemingway, and this is a theme in the novel - the ways in which Hemingway's star burned so brightly that it drew everything to it while simultaneously eclipsing it. McLain's written about Hemingway before, in The Paris Wife, but here it takes a turn. While in that narrative, we watch through Hadley's eyes as their marriage crumbles apart, in this novel, we watch from Martha's perspective as she comes into her own as a writer, and Ernest begins to crumble. Martha was truly a woman before her time, and it's clear in the novel that Hemingway struggled with her strength and desire to cultivate a career and a life as a writer and war correspondent in a time period where she was breaking barriers and norms. Frankly, Hemingway comes across as quite the asshole throughout the novel, self absorbed, unable to empathize or see Martha's perspective, and petulant when he doesn't get his way. Even through these moments, it's made clear that their love was deep and real, even if it couldn't withstand the internal strain and external pressures placed upon it.

Overall, a really lovely read. I'm a fan of McLain's style, and after three excellent novels in a row (including Circling the Sun), I'm excited to see who's inner life she shines a light on next. 

4/5 Stars.
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Martha Gellhorn was the beautiful daughter of a prominent St. Louis doctor. However from an early age, she was interested in traveling the world. She also had engaged in several affairs with married men who promised to marry her but didn’t. 

When Generalisimo Franco’s forces began their war for dominance of democratic Spain, volunteers from all over the world came to Spain to join the resistance. Among the volunteers was Ernest Hemingway, a novelist with several best selling books. Martha, who had been writing feature stories for magazines in the US, and had met Ernest while on a family trip to Key West where the Hemingway family lived. 

He had told her that he was going to Spain to fight and suggested she come over to cover it as a news correspondent. Her mother had been friends with Eleanor Roosevelt. Martha  got a magazine to sponsor her and pulled other strings to get permission to go to Spain. 

It was in Spain that Martha connected with and fell in love with the married Hemingway. The two wrote eventually became inseparable. The twice married Hemingway had tired of his wife Pauline and had been looking for someone new. Martha and Ernest eventually moved to Cuba and bought a home there. Both writers started new novels. Unfortunately Martha’s books were not as well received as Ernest’s books. 

After several years together and the publication of the classic, For Whom the Bells Toll, Hemingway was able to divorce Pauline and marry Martha. 

This story examines the relationship between Martha and Ernest. Although they both claimed to love each other deeply, they lived separate lives and were more interested in their careers. Martha wanted to be known professionally as Martha Gellhorn not Mrs. Hemingway. Ernest had many demons and could be cruel and demanding when he was not the center of attention. 

I enjoyed the book but not as much as the author’s story of the relationship between Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley, in The Paris Wife.
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I had a really hard time getting into this book, even by the halfway point.  Ms. Gellhorn was a journalist, novelist, war correspondent and the third wife of Ernest Hemingway.  The book was very factual and written sort of manner-of-fact. which didn't help draw me into the plot/book.
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Obviously this book is going to be compared to the Paris Wife and I loved the Paris Wife.  When I started reading this book, I thought this is so different, I don't think it's as good.  Then I realized of course it's different, Martha and Hadley are completely different women and their stories are going to be different.  Once I started getting to know Martha and getting involved in her story, then I really fell in love with the book. Ernest is still his obnoxious yet fascinating self and it was so interesting to learn about their relationship as the world was changing. I recommend this book to anyone and now I am going to try and move on and find the next great read.
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Love and Ruin by author Paula McLain is written about Martha Gellhorn a writer and later a war correspondent for Collier's. Love and Ruin is a beautifully written historical fiction. Some may think her prestige in life was as the third wife of Ernest Hemmingway, but I applaud her ability to separate herself from Hemminway and pursue her own ambitions. I can only imagine the courageous spirit she exhibited as she accepted criticism of her first book, and as she would leave everything she loved to be in the middle of war zones, hold the hands of the dying, and then bring those stories to life. 
In Love and Ruin, the reader will experience much of the idyllic and the tumultuous events of Martha's life with the often difficult Hemmingway. Their lives in the Cuban farm home Martha tried to restore and she loved was mostly peaceful and loving. As Martha refused to take a backseat and be the compliant wife, Hemmingway was resentful and tried to make her feel less successful. As I read the book there are scenes where I could almost feel her exuberance for living in the moment, even if it meant being on the edge of danger!
Thank you, NetGalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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3.75 Stars
I received an Uncorrected Proof file of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
There were a number of peaks and valleys for me while reading this book.  It took me some time to get interested at the beginning.  I even went back to the description of the book to remind myself why I was ever interested in reading it in the first place.  Once I was about a quarter of the way through, I hit a peak, became very invested in the story, and eventually fell in love with the main character Martha “Marty” Gelhorn.  I very much enjoyed the descriptive flow of McLain’s writing style. Often using words I would never imagine to describe something, but once I’d read them, they were exactly right.
At about the three-quarter mark, I hit another valley.  I believe these “valleys” were most likely deliberate. A way to make you feel somewhat like the character did; as if things were very low, and you’re butting your head up against the wall, not progressing or moving forward despite best efforts… however, they also made for a convenient place to just set the book down (and if you hadn’t promised to give your honest review, possibly not pick it back up again).
In the end, I still wanted to be Marty’s best friend.  I was grateful for the Author’s note that gave more of Marty’s story after the book’s end, because after all that preceded it, I felt the ending was a little abrupt.
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Paula McLain has written the most wonderful book about Ernest Hemingway and his third wife, Martha Gellhorn. This book is not to be missed! There's so much to learn from this book about Hemingway and his muse and later very famous and brave wife in her own right. The story moves along quickly and you feel like you are right there with the characters. The characters are so well developed. The author really did her research on this one! I loved it and I know it will stay with me a very long time. Worth a million stars!
I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley. Thank you, Netgalley! 
All opinions are my own.
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I liked Hadley better, as a person, but thought that Marty Gellhorn was so fascinating to read about. There is a lot more history in here - I feel like I learned a lot about so many different wars and conflicts. I didn't love the relationship that Marty and Hem had - so unstable and destructive - but it made for great reading! I hope she writes about wives 2 & 4!
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Love and Ruin is an appropriate title for Paula McLain's historical fiction about Martha Gellhorn. I did not know Martha "Marty" Gellhorn before reading this book.  Ms. Gellhorn was a journalist, novelist, war correspondent and the third wife of Ernest Hemingway.  The book was very factual but I found it lacking in emotion.  Even the defining scenes of Ms. Gellhorn's life were not very expre
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I really enjoyed this book.  I also enjoyed The Paris Wife, so I must have a thing for Ernest Hemingway's love life.  I didn't really see the necessity of the prologue but once I got past it, the book grabbed my interest.  Prior to reading this, I didn't know too much about Martha Gellhorn but her character was so well developed that I now have much respect for her as a woman and a writer.  She knew what she wanted and went after it despite the fact that she was a woman and automatically faced obstacles because of that. She wanted to prove herself and she did.  I admire how she gave everything her full attention including Ernest.  I'm sure he was a difficult man to be involved with yet she gave that relationship all she had while still retaining her sense of self.  I'm grateful to have been given an advance copy and look forward to seeing it's success when it is published.
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If you enjoyed The Paris Wife, I am sure you will enjoy this book.  This books is about Martha Gellhorn, Ernest Hemingway's third wife.  It is very descriptive of Gellhorn's time spent covering several wars as a journalist. 

In my opinion, Hemingway was a selfish, alcoholic that had to have someone catering to him.  Gellhorn did not do this.  She actually challenged him which is probably what led to the end of their relationship.  

I personally did not enjoy this book very much but that is not to say the story or writing was bad.  

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group Ballantine Books
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