I’ve read almost all of Paula McLain’s books. My book club selected Circling the Sun. To prepare myself for this read, I wanted to read her previous book, The Paris Wife. I read it and was intrigued by her style of writing. Sadly, I moved out of state and never finished Circling the Sun (it’s still sitting on my shelf with the bookmark in place). I noticed that McLain had published a new book and I thought I would give this one a try. And it was a pleasure.
I love what Paula McLain is doing with her books. The Paris Wife is the love story between Hadley Richardson and Ernest Hemmingway. The story is sweet, but tragic. In Love and Ruin, McLain picks up Hemmingway’s story and moves on to his second wife, Martha Gellhorn.
Told from Marty’s perspective, Hemmingway is a passionate lover but unsteady. Marty meets Hemmingway while he is still married. The pair begin an affair that jumps from America to Madrid to Cuba and many other places. The dangers of writing in a war zone brings them closer together.
With both of them being writers, they seclude themselves in paradise to write their perspective books. Marty has already written one book, and tries to write another. Hemmingway’s publishers want another successful book from him. Soon, they both have finished books. While Hemmingway’s book soars to success, Marty’s writing is sadly compared to her husbands. With two writers under one roof, it brings tension to their relationship.
Marty is desperate to be her own person and to nurture her own career. She takes assignments into war zones, leaving her now husband behind. Hemmingway guilts her every time she leaves.
As passionately as the relationship started, it ends in a pile of love and ruin.
I enjoy reading books by McLain, the only thing is that I’m not quite sure what to make of her. Her style is similar to a few other books (At the Water’s Edge for example). It’s a slow plot that brings you into the lives and stories of the characters. Nothing too exciting happens, but that’s life sometimes right?
I really liked the concept of McLain continuing with a stand alone novel that is a continuation of another story. She’s building the lives and experiences of each of Hemmingway’s wives and I’m really enjoying this little drama.
Love and Ruin by Paula McLain receives 3 stars.