Love and Ruin

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

This book is about the marriage of Ernest Hemingway to Martha Gellhorn. Two writers who fall in love but face many struggles after Hemingway’s book, “For Whom The Bell Tolls”, is published. Martha is a strong, independent woman who doesn’t want to succeed because she is married to Hemingway. The ups and downs of their marriage is the basis of the book. I enjoyed this book immensely.
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This novel chronicles the journalistic rise of Martha Gellhorn and her relationship with Ernest Hemingway. Maybe I’ve just read too many books about Hemingway and those that he loved, hurt, destroyed, etc. but this book was just an average read for me. 

Ms. Gellhorn was still struggling to find her career path when she and her family met Hemingway while in vacation in Key West, Florida. He convinces her to come to Spain with him and report on the civil war going on there, she is able to secure a press pass and joins him there. It is while here that she gets her first taste of war correspondence and she likes it. Ernest makes a play for her and even though he is still married to Pauline Pfeiffer with whom he has two sons, they begin a love affair. 

The interesting part of this book for me was Ms. Gellhorn and her accomplishments. I was so impressed that I spent hours looking up files about her on the internet and it made for interesting reading. I found that she had such a long career that she covered everything from the Spanish Civil War, Vietnam, the wars in El Salvador and Panama. She truly had a love of traveling and getting the story out. I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t know that she had published novels, but I plan to check them out.

The love affair, then marriage and then “ruin” of her time with Hemingway seemed like a repeat of so much I had read about him and his exploits before that all I felt was relief when Martha finally divorces him and lives her own life.

Of the three books that I’ve read by Ms. McLain I think this is probably my favorite and I would certainly look forward to the next novel by this talented author.

I received an ARC of this novel from publisher through NetGalley. Will also post to Amazon upon publication.
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Paula McLain has a way of writing fascinating stories.  The name "Hemingway" is known by so many but how many really knew him let alone his wives.  

Great read!
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I have mixed feelings about this book. It took me a long time to finish, partly because it's dry and had trouble holding my interest. It reads alternately like a school book or a travelogue of sorts, with no real catharsis other than the drama of war and Marty's relationship with Hemingway.

The most interesting aspect of Marty's career doesn't occur until near the end, and is given short shrift. Of course I had to look up several of the real-life characters afterwards, and was disappointed at some discoveries, including a key one that's left out of the Author's Note at the end. (view spoiler)

Even though I'm a journalist, I wasn't quite aware of Marty's legacy. Hopefully this book will show that she deserves to be known as something more than just Hemingway's third wife.

Thank you to Netgalley and Ballantine for the ARC.
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‘Love and Ruin’ by Paula McLain is a first rate novel in the genre of Historical Fiction.  The novel dives deeply into the tumultuous relationship between Ernest Hemingway and his third wife Martha Gellhorn.

At first I thought Hemingway would be the draw for me.   I was surprised to find myself loving the unique individual who is Martha Gellhorn.  While prior to reading this book,  I knew nothing about Ms. Gellhorn, I came away wondering why I hadn’t heard of her sooner. Why hadn’t she been celebrated before? She was outrageously brave, committed to work as one of the few women war correspondents and finally foolishly and deeply in love with Ernest Hemingway.

‘Love and Ruin’ is Gellhorn’s version of her relationship with Hemingway. It is written from her point of view.  Martha Gellhorn was a remarkable woman in so many aspects of her life. “ she became one of the 20th century’s most significant and celebrated war correspondents, reportin on virtually every major conflict for sixty years  – from the Spanish Civil War to the Bay of Pigs, from Vietnam to El Salvador to Panama, where she covered the invasion at the age of eighty-one.”

Martha Gellhorn had a backbone. She didn’t fall all over the famed American author. She fought for who she was as a person not as Mr. Hemingway’s wife.  She maintains a sense of self and continued her work as a war correspondent all while being Mrs. Hemingway.  It was never easy because Hemingway didn’t make it easy and at times so painful that she is indelibly ingrained in my mind forever. She is a strong and endearing individual.  

The author’s amazing writing captures the true essence of this remarkable woman.  The book is so well written that you absolutely get lost in the story and come away feeling like you are reading a memoir instead of Historical Fiction.

Kudos to Ms. McLain. I have a distinct feeling this book will be on the best seller list for quite awhile.  

I would like to thank the publisher, Ms. McLain and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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4.75 stars rounded up to 5. 

As a huge fan of the Paris Wife, I was thrilled to learn that Paula McLain was returning with another story of Hemingway's personal romantic past. Somehow, Love and Ruin manages to capture the tale - retaining the allure and romantic aura surrounding Hemingway, while unveiling the damaged underbelly of his fragile ego and fractured, tortured relationship(s). Paula McClain writes so convincingly as Martha (Marty) Gellhorn that I often forget I'm not reading a biography or memoir. She manages to capture such an authentic, time-specific voice that as a reader I am transported back to pre-WWII Europe, Cuba and the USA. She does a really masterful job of describing the physical details and and the emotional turmoil that Ernest and Marty can't quite seem to stop inflicting on one another. I had never heard of Marty Gellhorn prior to picking up the book and was fascinated to learn of her access, her independence and her fierce spirit and fight to be viewed as a legitimate writer in her own right-completely separate from the reputation of her much more famous husband. I am inspired to seek out her novels and her articles and hear her voice indpendently.

My one complaint is that I simply wanted more. I wanted all of the mysteries solved. All of the holes and cracks filled in. In the Epilogue, we learn that Marty ended her life after burning many personal effects including letters from Ernest. I have no doubt that Paula McClain filled in every crack she had access to or could even intelligently guess at. I suppose I'd just like to be a fly on the wall!

*advance digital copy recieved in exchange for an honest review.
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Love and Ruin: A Novel by [McLain, Paula]


In 1937, twenty-eight-year-old Martha Gellhorn travels alone to Madrid to report on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War and becomes drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught in the devastating conflict. It’s the adventure she’s been looking for and her chance to prove herself a worthy journalist in a field dominated by men. But she also finds herself unexpectedly—and uncontrollably—falling in love with Hemingway, a man on his way to becoming a legend.

In the shadow of the impending Second World War, and set against the turbulent backdrops of Madrid and Cuba, Martha and Ernest’s relationship and their professional careers ignite. But when Ernest publishes the biggest literary success of his career, For Whom the Bell Tolls, they are no longer equals, and Martha must make a choice: surrender to the confining demands of being a famous man’s wife or risk losing Ernest by forging a path as her own woman and writer. It is a dilemma that could force her to break his heart, and hers.

Heralded by Ann Patchett as “the new star of historical fiction,” Paula McLain brings Gellhorn’s story richly to life and captures her as a heroine for the ages: a woman who will risk absolutely everything to find her own voice.

The bestselling author of The Paris Wife returns to the subject of Ernest Hemingway in a novel about his passionate, stormy marriage to Martha Gellhorn—a fiercely independent, ambitious young woman who would become one of the greatest war correspondents of the twentieth century.

Praise for Paula McLain

“Paula McLain is considered the new star of historical fiction, and for good reason.”—Ann Patchett, Country Living

“McLain has such a gift for bringing characters to life.”—Jojo Moyes

“Paula McLain cements herself as the writer of historical fiction.”—Jodi Picoult

“With a sharp eye for detail and style to spare, McLain captures the nuances of complex relationships.”—Christina Baker Kline

About the Author:

Paula McLain is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Circling the Sun, The Paris Wife, and A Ticket to Ride, the memoir Like Family: Growing Up in Other People’s Houses, and two collections of poetry. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, O: The Oprah Magazine, Town & Country, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and elsewhere. She lives in Ohio with her family.

My Thoughts:

I believe this is the MOST highlighted book in my collection. Not only is it another unique look into Hemingway’s life, but also into the very beginnings of war.

I loved the point of view of Martha, a fellow writer and how she viewed writing, war, her career, and the elusive Hemingway.

Something was missing in my life-in me- and I thought writing could fill it or fix it, or cure me of myself.

Martha goes on a string of “relationships”, which are no more than one night stands with many of them as she tries to navigate the writing world as a woman. Then she stumbles upon her idol, Ernest Hemingway, in a bar in Florida.

His eyes cut sideways at me in the mirror, and my pulse quickened. It was something to have his attention, even briefly. Like a bright light passing my way before moving on. But there was also a feeling that he really saw me, and understood how my mind worked. It didn’t make any sense, as we’d just met- but he was a brilliant painter of people in his work, and I believed that he probably did see all kinds of things, perhaps without even trying.

I loved Martha’s wrestle within herself, whether to take Ernest’s attention seriously or professionally.

I didn’t want to cause trouble; I only knew what I knew. That Ernest could eclipse me, large as any sun, without even trying. That he was too famous, too far along in his own career, too sure of what he wanted. He was also too married, too dug into the life he’d built in Key West. Too driven, too dazzling. Too Hemingway.

I also loved our brief glimpses of what was going on in Hemingway’s mind as well.

All he can see for the moment is what’s in front of him, only that, and she is part of it. It might be the war changing him, being at the knife-bright edge of things for the first time in many years. Whatever the reason, she’s gotten through whatever defenses he’s built up and now he doesn’t want to stop thinking of her and trying to be closer to her, no matter what it ruins.

If you are a fan of  The Paris Wife , then this is a must read!!

You can pre-order your copy of Love and Ruin Here.

Love and Ruin: A Novel by [McLain, Paula]

I was given this book in exchange for my honest review from Netgalley. All opinions stated above are my own.
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Always love Paula McClain. This will be one of our book options for September.
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Another winner by Paula McLain, this novel tells the fascinating story of Martha Gellhorn, better known as one of Hemingway's wives, yet a fascinating and adventurous writer in her own right. I enjoyed learning about all of her wartime reporting and what an exciting life she lived apart from her famous husband and then ex-hus
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This book took me a few chapters to get in to but really enjoyed the end.  I could easily visualize their home in Cuba as well as the war zones the author described.  The life of a war journalist or the wife of Ernest Hemingway couldn't have been easy .  I would recommend this book to others!
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This is not my usual choice of reading material.  I have never read about Ernest Hemingway before, I am glad I did, but honestly I am not a fan of his..  Martha Gellhorn, on the other hand, is so interesting and admirable.  A woman before her time. Ernest and Martha have a very passionate, tumultuous relationship as she strives for recognition of her own talent.. Very well written story by Paula McLain.
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I loved the Paris Wife, and the author once again tackles one of Hemingway's Wives, but this one did not hold my attention like the first. I could walk  away from it, and then come back which I could not do with The Paris WIfe. I have visited both of Hemingway's homes in Key West and outside of Havana, and I have spent time in Madrid, and that made the book somewhat interesting to me, but the setting never became a part of the story in the same way that Paris did in the first one. There was much reference to Hemingway's childishness, but it didn't make the impact on the story that it should have. 

The book was certainly worth reading, and I will recommend it to others who read the Paris Wife but not with the same enthusiasm. The author's note on Martha Gelhorn at the end of the book portray a much more interesting person than her character in the book. Maybe she should write a novel based on her life after Hemingway! I read this book thanks to Netgalley and the publisher.
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I'm prefacing this review by mentioning that I loved McLain's previous two novels. In fact, I'm planning on going back to re-read them now that I've finished Love and Ruin.

With that being said, Love and Ruin was not my favorite novel by Paula McLain. I've learned that Ernest Hemingway was a masochistic alcoholic. He wanted a trite housewife with no life, as we saw in The Paris Wife. Martha Gelhourn was even more outgoing and adventurous (with a serious case of wanderlust) than Hadley. She was a writer first and foremost and had her own life to live. Had I been married to Ernest, I too would've run off and into a war zone. He was boring. I found that this story mirrored Marty's time with Ernest. Boring. Her being the first woman on Normandy Beach - an opportunity for some excitement - was mentioned almost in passing. 

After finishing the novel, I did wish that the story had continued. Who was Martha's second husband? What was life like for her post-Hemingway? 

I still find Paula McLain to be an exceptionally talented writer and will continue to request novels written by her. I look forward to her next installment!
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I chose to read this book because I was a huge fan of The Paris Wife. I did enjoy this story but I needed more about Martha Gellhorn's life in this book. I think there was a bit of a missed opportunity by not giving more of her life before/after Hemingway. Looking forward to reading all of Paula McLain's future books. 3 1/2 stars
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A charming historical novel of the fascinating relationship between Hemingway and Gellhorn. She was a wonderfully strong protagonist, way before her time. The novel was filled with war, drama and romance, with wonderful locales
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I am a big fan of Paula McLain and thoroughly enjoyed this book about Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway.  Martha was such a courageous, intelligent and strong woman, who just happened to be Hem's 3rd wife.  I liked learning more about her adventurous life and feel like McLain made these people come to life on the page.
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This is one of my favorite books of 2018.  Martha Gellhorn was Hemingway third wife and the only wife to leave him first, sort of. She was a great writer in her own right and a spunky war correspondent in a time when women didnt go to hot zones. She wrote great books and yet her work was constantly compared to that of her famous husband Hemingway. Martha was also very beautiful and understood that Ernest charismatic pull was a very dicey situation. I loved this book even more than Paula McLain's first book The Paris Wife about Hemingway's first wife. I also loved the scenes in this book about their travels and their more quiet life in Cuba where their love affair was destined to fail.
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Where do I even start with this novel? I had a hard time getting into it. At around chapter 4 I had to check to make sure I was reading this and not something else. After that, it really picked up. I enjoyed the Paris Wife, but it left me feeling empty. Love and Ruin made me angry and sad, in all the best ways. I’m not the biggest fan of Ernest Hemingway to begin with. I think he was a misogynist alcoholic who was full of himself. This novel made him empathetic, to an extent. I loved Martha and how she was written. I appreciate how Paula McLain bases her stories in fact and does her research. I’m not going to delve into the story. It’s one that needs to be read. Nothing I can sum up is going to equal to what she says herself. Solid 4.5. 

I received an advanced digital copy from Net Galley and a hard copy from Random House.

The same review is posted to my Goodreads page
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This book is fictionalized story about the life of Martha Gellhorn, who was the third life of Ernest Hemingway.  Martha is an adventurous, courageous writer who travels to war zones to report on the state of affairs in the hopes that telling these stories can bring change and enlightenment to the world.

Martha meets Hemingway while she is on vacation with her mother and brother, trying to work through her father's death.  He recognizes her and knows her work and takes her in and shows her family all around Key West.  He even brings her to his home and introduces her to his wife and children.  

The two keep up a correspondence after she returns home and eventually end up in Spain, reporting on the war.  In these uncertain, dangerous times, they begin a relationship.  The book follows them through many other war zones, both literal and figurative.  Hemingway struggles with her independence and adventurousness, two of the things that initially drew him to her.

I really enjoyed reading about their relationship. The books travels all over the world and it is exciting to read of all of the different places and experiences. It was also interesting to read about writing and the difficulties and intricacies of being an author, as both Martha and Hemingway were.
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Paula McLain is back with a vengeance! Her next book, Love and Ruin is about to be released and it is awesome.  I love her work and this tale does not disappoint.  This is the story of Martha “Marty” Gellhorn, a talented World War II war correspondent and author.  She was also Ernest Hemingway’s third wife.   The novel covers the tumultuous years of her life that she spent with Ernest as she struggled to be recognized for her own talent and to be the wife to a man who was very talented but also very troubled and demanding.

The story is told in the first person by Marty.  This allows the reader to be in her head, to feel and see what she does.  It is easy to be swept up in the emotions and romance of being with Ernest and the pain and sorrow as their relationship fades.  The reader feels her warmth as she gets to know Hemingway’s children and feels as if they are her own.  You also get a glimpse into her thoughts and despair as she witnesses the horror of war seen from many fronts. This style brings Marty alive to the reader!

As with all Ms. McLain’s books, you won’t be able to put this one down.  It brings the main character to life and keeps you turning pages as you witness the path that her life takes.  You become emotionally invested in Marty’s life and experience her difficulties.  Because of the adult situations that may be difficult for a young reader to understand, I recommend this for young adult to adult readers.  Make sure you pick this one up, you won’t be disappointed!!
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