Love and Ruin

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

I have always been captivated by Ernest Hemingway. I have read Hemingway and many books about him and his life and his four wives. “Love and Ruin” is so well written.  It speaks intensely and passionately about the tumultuous relationship between Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway. Balancing the difficulty of such a mutually intense love with that of one’s own desires and adventures and dreams, begs the question, can it actually be accomplished? To demand so much of each other and yet, to be true to oneself, is a major theme resonated in all the pages of this book. This read will not disappoint.
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This is my first book by Paula McLain, and I think she is a very good author. I liked her style of writing. She drew me into the story right from the beginning and her descriptions of all the different countries were so realistic. This is the story of Martha Gellhorn, a famous war correspondent. Her career began in 1937 when she went to Madrid to cover the Spanish Civil War. While she was there she met and fell in love with Ernest Hemingway. Eventually they get married, but their marriage does not last long because he is threatened by her need to be successful. I know it is important that she was married to Hemingway, but I hope she can be remembered for all she did. She risked her life many times for the sake of reporting what was going on in war torn countries. She continued to follow her career path all of her life, and became a great journalist (even though she was a woman). Highly recommend!
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Paula McLain has returned to Ernest Hemingway, more specifically to his third wife Martha Gellhorn. Her first novel, Paris Wife, describes Hadley and her marriage to Hemingway.
I was not a big fan  of that book but I really enjoyed Ms McLain’s second book Circling the Sun.
This, however, is a very good story. It traces the relationship of Hemingway and Gellhorn from their meeting in 1936 to the end of the Second World War in 1945. A historical novel that follows Gellhorn from war zones in Spain’s fall to Franco to Finland to Japan and China to Europe and to England, and France. Gellhorn has the drive , ambition and the desire to write which draws her to Hemingway and puts her in competition, whether actual or only in the minds of book critics. Their relationship is replete with extreme highs and lows. McLain hints at the instability in Hemingway, that will eventually bring his ending.
She does not make either character completely without guilt in the collapse of their marriage, but obviously her sympathies lie with Gellhorn.
I really liked the feeling of accompanying Gellhorn through history. She does make you feel a part of the story. 
Read as an ARC from NetGalley.
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Paula McClain truly wraps and weaves you into the world of Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn with her newest novel, Love and Ruin. 

Marty Gellhorn is a woman of courage and tenacity. She is a writer by trade and throws her all into her work. She is continuously let down by the men in her life, including her distant father, who sees her work and love life as self destructive. After her father passes away, Marty and family travel to Key West. They meet Ernest Hemingway at a local bar by chance, and he and Marty start a friendship that completely changes her life, in more ways than one. 

This novel covers many years, including the years Marty and Ernest spend as war correspondents. While I know this was an essential part of the story, it was the only part that did not completely hold my attention. McClain’s writing is truly wonderful. The descriptions are elegant and intriguing, especially the scenes set in the house Marty and Ernest shared in Cuba. The relationships Marty had with Ernest’s children were beautiful and nurturing, an aspect that can’t be ignored from the story. Even the relationship between Marty and Ernest was raw and beautiful, although at times very trying. 

Towards the end of the book we go through the demise of Marty and Ernest’s relationship, one that would free Marty but show the beginning of the end of Ernest Hemingway. It was tough to read after many pages overflowing with their partnership, but it was done well. It showed the true courage of Marty, which I believe was the best outcome of a sad ending.
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A wonderful story about Ernest Hemingway and the female journalist who loved him but I could not finish it.
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LOVE AND RUIN might be Paula McLain's best historical novel yet. Fans of The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun will love this latest work, which tells the fascinating story of Martha Gellhorn--wife to Ernest Hemingway and a successful writer and war correspondent in her own right. The plot is a little bit of a slow build, but I think this was a smart move on McLain's part. Since the story is really about Marty, it's nice to get her background upfront and to understand who she was - including her hopes and dreams - before she met Hemingway. Marty's personality shines through even in times of war and the novel's ending feels well-deserved. McLain's writing throughout has the feel of a poet; I especially appreciate her careful and delicate word choice and the way she sets the mood in diverse settings. Five stars.
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Enjoyed this book immensely.  Great writing, interesting and strong protagonist.  Story is filled with war, drama and lots of interesting locales.  Thank you for the opportunity!
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This is a story of Martha Gellhorn, a remarkable woman who “became one of the twentieth century’s most significant and celebrated war correspondents, reporting 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.”

As the story is told by Marty herself, it makes the story very credible. Her voice is raw. Right away she comes across as a woman of strong character, a true traveler at heart, who doesn’t necessarily want to be committed to one place. “It seemed imperative not only to be on the move, and feeling things, but also to be my own person, and to live my own life, and not anyone else’s.”

The author’s incredible writing reflects a true character of this remarkable woman. This is the first book, which makes me see Ernest Hemingway in a different light as a likeable person. This grasping story, evoking human emotions will linger with you long after you’re done reading.

At Key West, while with her family, Marty meets Hemingway. He encourages her to join him to go to Spain and report on war as many others will be doing.

In March 1937, she makes her way to Madrid. She travels with Hemingway to different towns lying in ruins, and to battalions observing and talking to soldiers. While absorbing all this, it evokes her senses, putting her objective writing in question. She admires Spaniards for their spirit, still dancing as they say: better to die on feet than knees.

Until the beginning of 1939 she travels on between US and Europe and continues to report on the situation that the war is no longer a question if it happens, but when.

In February 1939, they travel to Cuba, where they change gears and each work on writing a book. Later she becomes his third wife.

While being in Hemingway’s shadow, Marty realizes how much she enjoys the challenges of being at front line as a war correspondent “…where things of real consequence were happening. That’s where I felt alive, and useful and involved.”

As she earns her respect as a war correspondent, and is gone for months at a time, Ernest keeps slipping into a darker and darker place as he doesn’t do well on his own. He needs a constant companionship.

As she continues to follow her passion and calling, their paths drift apart more and more.
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Love and Ruin by Paula McLain is a book that deserves every bit of praise it receives. I fell in love with Miss McLain’s writing when I read The Paris Wife. I fell head over heels in love after reading Circling the Sun. My love for her writing grew reading Love and Ruin. I feel, rather strongly, that Paula McLain is one of the best writers of this era. There are many parts of Love and Ruin that I stopped and read aloud. That is just how beautiful and captivating the writing is. 
	“Sometimes shadows bore blacker shadows when they found you. Yes. Some storms had darker, more terrible storms inside them. But even then you could come out of them and see a known shoreline. You could look up to see that somehow, someway or other, you’d found your way back to yourself.”
	I think that paragraph sums Love and Ruin. I love Hemingway the writer. I can see how loving Hemingway the man was painful at times. Their lives at times seemed so idyllic and at other times like a tempest.  Martha Gellhorn was a woman who was dedicated to her craft before she met Hemingway, became his lover, and then his wife. It must have been so discouraging to have her writing compared to Hemingway. When she realized that she was losing herself, and Hemingway, she made a decision to leave and continue her successful career as a war correspondent. That marked the end of the marriage. Gellhorn is known to be one of the best war correspondents of her time and earned that reputation in her own right. Regardless of her marriage to Hemingway. 
	Love and Ruin is awesome and just wonderful. I know that it will be a book I not only recommend but will read again. Buy it. Borrow it. Love it.
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The book is another fantastic installment from McLain.  It’s really a sensational story about such fiery and famous and tough people.  The period, the feeling, the whole tapestry is marvelous, and I’m sorry the book is done.  Best that I’ve read in ages.
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Paula McLain is a master of Historical Fiction.  I loved everything about this book.  The perfect blend of fact and fiction and an extraordinarily prescient and thoughtful story considering today's political climate.
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Getting to know Martha Gellhorn, a war correspondent for 60 years, during her relationship with Ernest Hemingway was fascinating. A brave and talented women ahead of her time.
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