Love and Ruin by Paula McLain is a book I enjoyed so much more than I was expecting. It is a fictional story about Martha Gellhorn and her travels around the world as a journalist and her relationship and marriage to Ernest Hemingway.
I was interested in the story but also a bit leery. Often fictional books about real people come off as fake and trying to hard and I often find myself really not liking this person who really did live. But Love and Ruin was luckily not at all like that. I was sucked into the writing and the character of Martha pretty quickly.
Martha had depth and I found myself over and over not necessarily agreeing with her decisions but feeling like I understood her enough to understand why she made those decisions. I loved her development as a person throughout the story and that growth felt very true to real life. The story is told with Martha being the narrator and it really did feel like she wrote the book. I loved the descriptive details of what she was feeling and thinking and seeing. Martha is sent to cover many war zones and I found the information about the various wars and countries she covered fascinating and I learned a lot. The descriptions of her experiences in war zones seemed so realistic I could easily picture what she was seeing and living through.
I think the story was so successful for me because it wasn’t just about her and Hemingway. It was the story of Martha Gellhorn, who also happened to be married to Ernest Hemingway but her marriage to him wasn’t the whole part of her. She lived an adventurous life and was definitely her own person who was trying to discover who she was. She was constantly searching for her place and for who she was. Many of the choices she makes is because of that search. Really it was the story of the struggle of finding yourself and what it means for relationships and those you love when what you love to do takes you away from those who need you. How do you choose which to cultivate?
My copy of Love and Ruin was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review