Love and Ruin tells the story of Ernest Hemingway and 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.
Paula McLain is a brilliant writer. This was the first of her books that I read and I am excited to read others. Her characterizations are very pronounced- bringing them to life in a beautiful way. McLain shows complex and fragile relationships in a propulsive and engaging way.
Marty is a journalist and in 1937 she goes to war time Spain to help share the stories of all those suffering. She wanted to feel alive and those last words from her father saying, “Write, and do it now instead of capitalizing on your nice figure and your pretty hair. Stop being charming” hit her hard! Ironically, she idolized Hemingway who was also in Spain. This was no coincidence as it is believed she engineered her first meeting with Hemingway in Sloppy Joe’s which happened to be his favorite spot. In Spain, they are drawn to each other with war not far behind. Although, Hemingway was still married at the time, the two were soon in love. There were rumors and years later Hemingway got divorced from his second wife and built a life with Marty. Marriage, did she really want to…. did she listen to herself or did she find out too late. This novel illustrates how different Marty was from the other wives. Independent and ambitious. Does her career come first before anything else or does she have to hold on to Hemingway’s coattails in order to be a strong author/journalist on her own. Marty’s story is a romantic quest and not a very traditional one. Although this book is fiction, it provides a lot of great details about WW2 and interesting facts of how journalists covered stories in those days is among them.