Growing up I was a huge Hemingway fan and read several of his books. Now that I’m an adult, I’m not sure why I was slightly obsessed with him. It was probably the stories instead of the actual man. Then I read The Paris Wife by Paula McLain about Hemingway and his first wife Hadley. This book exposed me to the young Hemingway’s private life. Recently I read Love and Ruin by McLain about Hemingway and his third wife Martha (Marty) Gillhorn, one of the great war correspondents of the 20th century.
The book opens with Marty as a teenager on vacation with her mom and brother in Key West. They meet Hemingway at a restaurant/bar where they strike up a conversation. Marty is intrigued and impressed with Hemingway and starts to correspond, sharing her writing, asking for his advice. He encourages Marty to join him in Europe where she can get experience reporting about what is happening as World War II approaches. In order to travel, she must secure the backing by a magazine.
Marty jumps at the opportunity to travel to Europe and secures a byline with Collier’s Weekly, hoping to use her friendship with Hemingway to help open doors for her career. But while in Spain, the couple have an attraction and she soon becomes involved in a romantic relationship with Hemingway while he is still married to his second wife Pauline. Marty and Hemingway eventually move to Havana as Marty waits for Hemingway to divorce Pauline and marry her. I feel like this was a pattern for him.
This book is mainly about Marty and her time with Hemingway. This really exposes how very selfish a man Hemingway was and how he didn’t really care about other people’s feelings. He always got bored and restless in his marriages and became critical of his wives and a mean bully. It was sad to see how he treated Marty when she wanted to go back and cover the war.
How insecure and threatened her felt by Marty’s success. She was someone who couldn’t stay away from the war and became restless, itching to get back to the action. She took many risks to report what was happening and is the only woman to land at Normandy on D-Day when she hid in a hospital ship bathroom and impersonated a stretcher bearer.
Love and Ruin brought Marty and Hemingway to life. Some of my favorite times were in Havana. I was curious to see what the house looked like, which you can see on the internet. I was disappointed that Marty so freely gave the Havana house away to Hemingway when they broke up. She was the one that purchased it and she was the one that did all the renovations even though Hemingway thought the house was a bad investment. I felt like it was more her house and that she should have put her foot down and not allowed him to return with his next mistress/wife.
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.
Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat