Paula McLain’s fascination with Ernest Hemingway runs deep. She proved this seven years ago with her novel The Paris Wife, which presented the extraordinary author through the lens of his first marriage to Hadley Richardson. McLain has repeated that magic in Love and Ruin, which focuses on Hemingway’s third wife, Martha Gellhorn.
Martha, or Marty, is an aspiring writer and world traveler, two passions that lead her to become one of the first female war correspondents in modern history. In between covering major wars from the front lines, she pours her heart and experiences into an impressive collection of fiction.
Marty idolizes Ernest like many others of her time, and as fate would have it, the two fall in love while covering the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. Marty is very much a woman in a man’s world, and her fearlessness, independence and writing chops make her irresistible to Ernest. From Key West to Madrid to Havana, we follow their courtship and eventual marriage, which is full of romance, hope, inspiration and encouragement—until Marty realizes that marrying one of the most famous men in the world comes at the cost of her own goals.
McLain’s ability to base a work of fiction on real people is nothing short of superb. Readers may pick up Love and Ruin because of their obsession with Ernest Hemingway, but they’ll fall in love with it because of Marty Gellhorn.