NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The bestselling author of The Paris Wife brings to life the story of Martha Gellhorn—a fiercely independent, ambitious woman ahead of her time, who would become one of the greatest war correspondents of the twentieth century.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • New York Public Library • Bloomberg • Real Simple
In 1937, twenty-eight-year-old Martha Gellhorn 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 the devastating conflict. It’s her chance to prove herself a worthy journalist in a field dominated by men. There she also finds herself unexpectedly—and unwillingly—falling in love with Ernest Hemingway, a man on his way to becoming a legend.
On the eve of World War II, and set against the turbulent backdrops of Madrid and Cuba, Martha and Ernest’s relationship and 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 forge a path as her own woman and writer.
Heralded by Ann Patchett as “the new star of historical fiction,” Paula McLain brings Gellhorn’s story richly to life and captures her as a heroine for the ages: a woman who will risk absolutely everything to find her own voice.
Praise for Love and Ruin
“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. . . . 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
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“[A] wonderfully evocative portrayal…McLain brings Martha alive…The characters are believable and sympathetic. Scenes depicting Spain in violent turmoil and London in World War II vividly convey the atmosphere of the time….This is historical fiction at its best…A must-have for all public libraries that should be a book group favorite, especially when paired with Gellhorn’s own writings such as A Stricken Field or The Face of War.”
Library Journal (starred 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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
“McLain brings forth the deepest, most ringing elements of both ‘love and ruin,’ the two poles of Marty and Ernest’s tempestuous relationship, a ferocious contest between two brilliant, willful, and intrepid writers. McLain’s fast-moving, richly insightful, heart-wrenching, and sumptuously written tale pays exhilarating homage to its truly exceptional and significant inspiration.”
— Booklist (starred review)
“Gellhorn emerges as a fierce trailblazer every bit Hemingway’s equal in this thrilling book.”
— Publishers Weekly
“McLain crafts a wonderful portrait of her characters and the settings. Some may find the prose beautifully written and Gellhorn captivating—her spirit remains strong despite Hemmingway’s overbearing personality. As she has done before, McLain delivers a novel centering on a strong, courageous and unconventional woman.”
— RT Book Reviews (4 stars)
A May 2018 LibraryReads Pick
An Indie Next List selection
New York Times bestseller
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About Paula McLain
Paula McLain is the author of several New York Times bestselling novels and a memoir and two collections of poetry. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Good Housekeeping, O: The Oprah Magazine, Town & Country, the London Guardian, and the Huffington Post.
About January LaVoy
January LaVoy, winner of numerous awards for narration, was named a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine in 2019. She is an American actress best known for her character Noelle Ortiz on the ABC daytime drama One Life to Live. In addition to working extensively in narration and television, including roles on Law & Order and All My Children, she has worked on and off Broadway as well as in regional theater.