Martha Gellhorn is my role model. Just a heads up as we move forward. She is my life, well, hopefully one day my life is like hers, to put it mildly. But I promise, more or less, that I will stick to the depiction Paula McLain illustrates between the 400 pages of Love and Ruin.
To start, as some background, and this is not any spoilers considering it is easily accessible information that has been around for quite some time, Martha Gellhorn was Ernest Hemingway’s third wife. They shared a little more than five years together during the 1940s. As a world is being tarnished by soldiers and hatred, Ernest and Martha found each other. Puts a whole new meaning to finding love in a hopeless place, doesn’t it?
Although time has not been favorable to Hemingway’s character, his assholeness, in a matter of speaking, cannot diminish the passion and romance shared between him and his wives. Not every love lasts, but love is love.
Alright, enough with the theoretical and romantic optimism, into the book. I’m not going to lie, I believe my reading experience of Love and Ruin was probably, incredibly different from other people’s because of my own obsession with her life. But I would not say it was actually to the benefit of the book however. It led me to trying to reconcile the Martha Gellhorn I had built up in my head, my own perception and depiction; the one I carried with me, with the one McLain wrote out. And although I doubt either of us could really match who she truly was, as an incredibly private public figure and very rarely writing or referring to her own life or emotions, who can really say which is correct other than the ones that intimately knew her? But reconciling my figure with hers made the beginning less grabbing for me and more work to actually make it through. To get to that invested point within the book.
However, with that being said, once I did become invested, I was obsessed. I read this book constantly. While going on long walks, I would be transported to the 1940s on the roof just miles from the front of the Spanish Civil War, crouched beneath Martha and Ernest as they doodled every feeling and thought away in their personal notebooks as guns shot out a few short miles away. Even when I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about the rest of their story. When would this happen, how fast would it unravel, etc. etc.
I sped through this novel. And even though I love Martha and am forever intrigued by Ernest, I think that anyone who doesn’t know their story, would fall in love with it just as easy. Definitely a great book for beach living or solo brunching.
Love and Ruin by Paula McLain is a definite read in my book.