Review Love and Ruin: A Novel by Paula McLain


McLain strikingly depicts Martha Gellhorn’s burgeoning career as a writer and war correspondent during the years of her affair with and marriage to Ernest Hemingway. The narrative begins when Gellhorn, who has garnered national recognition for her field reporting on the Great Depression, meets Hemingway and travels with him to cover the Spanish Civil War at his suggestion. The war both horrifies and inspires her to continue writing, particularly one traumatic moment when she witnesses a child being killed by a mortar. While in Spain, Gellhorn and Hemingway become romantically involved and then move to Cuba, set up house, and launch into a productive period of writing and publishing. Things go well for a few years, but Hemingway’s neediness and jealousy eventually poisons their happiness and forces Gellhorn to choose between her own career and indulging his desire for a devoted wife. Realizing her true passion comes from on-the-ground reporting, Gellhorn decides to cover D-Day by leaving Hemingway and stowing away on the first hospital ship to land at Normandy, wading ashore to become the “first journalist, male or female, to make it there and report back.” Gellhorn emerges as a fierce trailblazer every bit Hemingway’s equal in this thrilling book.





Editorial Reviews Review


“In this heart-tugging follow-up [to The Paris Wife], we meet Martha Gellhorn, a correspondent during the Spanish Civil War, who was the third—and perhaps most intriguing—of [Hemingway’s] wives. The title says it all.”People

“Propulsive . . . highly engaging . . . McLain does an excellent job portraying a woman with dreams who isn’t afraid to make them real, showing [Gellhorn’s] bravery in what was very much a man’s world. Her work around the world . . . is presented in meticulous, hair-raising passages. . . . The book is fueled by her questing spirit, which asks, Why must a woman decide between being a war correspondent and a wife in her husband’s bed?”The New York Times Book Review

“[The] scenes of professional rivalry and seesawing imbalance are some of McLain’s best. . . . McLain’s legions of fans will relish the inspiration of a gutsy woman who discovers she doesn’t need a man at her side, after all.”The Boston Globe

“McLain successfully turns Martha’s story into a romantic quest and Martha into a romantic heroine—though not a traditional one.”The Washington Post

“Romance, infidelity, war—Paula McLain’s powerhouse novel has it all.”Glamour

“If you loved McLain’s 2011 blockbuster The Paris Wife, you’re sure to adore her new novel, which is just as good, if not better.”AARP

“McLain’s strengths as a novelist are formidable, especially her ability to evoke a strong sense of time and place. . . . This novel is important not only as historical fiction but also as a reminder of the challenges that faced career-minded women such as Gellhorn in the mid-twentieth century. . . . McLain is also a master at ending chapters that make you want to turn the page and see what happens next.”Houston Chronicle

“If love and war are two of the greatest themes in literature, they’re both here. . . . McLain’s dialogue, is, as Hem might say, good and true. She captures the passion Gellhorn and Hemingway feel for each other, and the slow erosion of trust on both sides.”USA Today

“McLain takes another successful trip into historical fiction. . . . Readers will have to remind themselves that this is fiction as McLain draws a finely detailed portrait of the chaos and destruction spreading across Spain.”St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Engrossing . . . [Love and Ruin] spotlights a woman ahead of her time—a fearless reporter who covered the major conflicts of the twentieth century.”Real Simple

“McLain’s ability to base a work of fiction on real people is nothing short of superb.”BookPage

“Wonderfully evocative . . . This is historical fiction at its best, and today’s female readers will be encouraged by Martha, who refuses to be silenced or limited in a time that was harshly repressive for women.”Library Journal (starred review)


Top customer reviews

Mary Stevens
Very interesting book, especially after reading the Paris Wife. Enjoyed this one very much
Patricia A. Reitsma
I read “A Paris Wife” a few years ago about Wife #1, Hadley and now wondering if there is a book about Pauline on the horizon. I loved Martha’s independent spirit and ability to make things happen so she could create a great career for herself. Somehow I don’t think she cared for Hemingway all that much but instead liked the idea of being in love with him. I never was a big Hemingway fan but can appreciate his writing. Another recent book I’ve read was “The Ambulance Drivers” about his friendship with John Dos Passos.
Ashley Hedden 
Love and Ruin was a good read by Paula McLain. In 1937 Martha went to Madrid to find out about the Spanish Civil War. Martha finds herself falling in love with Ernest Hemingway. I loved reading about how they fell in love and the result of said love.

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