Love and Ruin

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

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.
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?