Book Reviews

Love and Ruin by Paula McLain

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Love and Ruin by Paula McLain 

Published by Ballantine Books on May 1, 2018

Pages: 352

Genres: fiction, historical fiction

Rating: 4 stars

 

Synopsis: 

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

In 1937, twenty-eight-year-old Martha 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 devastating conflict. She also finds herself unexpectedly—and uncontrollably—falling in love with Hemingway, a man already on his way to becoming a legend. In the shadow of the impending Second World War, and set against the tumultuous backdrops of Madrid, Finland, China, Key West, and especially Cuba, where Martha and Ernest make their home, their relationship and 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 will force her to break his heart, and her own.

Review: 

I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. As always, an honest review.

Love and Ruin centers around Martha Gellhorn, a spunky, ambitious, intelligent and confident journalist. She wants to travel the world in order to write about the significant events, especially the wars encompassing the world. The character of Martha is the fictionalized version of Martha Gellhorn, a real journalist during the 1930s and 40s. She was also the mistress and eventual wife of Ernest Hemingway.

The story is beautifully told. I really appreciated that the tale of these real life people was incredibly readable and not at all dull. The writing style flows well and makes for an easy seamless read that I absolutely flew through. The book portrays what it feels like to travel to a war zone to share the experiences with others through journalism. I truly felt as if I were hunkered down in the hotel, hearing the gunfire in the not so far away distance. The reader also understands Martha’s desperation to share these experiences with the world, do them justice, and continue pursuing her journalism career.

Love and Ruin also tells the love story of Ernest and Martha, starting with their affair. Obviously these events were loosely based on real life, but I didn’t really enjoy reading about their affair. Affairs in general have the potential to hurt a lot of people, so it’s not exactly my favorite topic. Her relationship with Ernest Hemingway, a world renowned author, brings up a lot of things to think about. These topics include why do women get compared to men’s work, but not the other way around? Why are women expected to change after marriage to suit their husbands, not mutual compromise? Topics that were relevant back then, and still now. I really enjoyed the character of Martha. She makes the story work.

 

Recommend to fans of: historical fiction, Ernest Hemingway, complex love stories, books that make you think 

Read with food: Scones and French press black coffee with a pinch of sugar

Scones are simple yet when baked perfectly are wonderful, just like the writing in this novel.

The coffee matches the intensity of the story with just a hint of sweetness throughout.

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