A chance meeting in a bar in Key West in 1936 began a friendship and ultimately marriage between Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn. Martha was a novice writer hoping to become famous. She couldn’t help being drawn to the charismatic Hemingway. Their friendship progressed through phone calls until Ernest announced his intention to go to Spain as a war correspondent.
Martha couldn’t resist the call of adventure. She followed Hemingway to Spain with fifty dollars and a backpack. Martha caught up with Hemingway in Madrid. She still saw him as a friend, but the attraction was strong and soon they were lovers. Being the partner of a famous man wasn’t easy for Martha, an independent woman who wanted her own career.
They married in 1940 and had happy years writing in Havana. Then Hemingway’s most famous book, For Whom the Bell Tolls, was published, and Martha found herself eclipsed by his fame. They struggled for awhile, but the marriage eventually ended in divorce and Martha went on to be a famous war correspondent.
This is a thoroughly engrossing book. I thought the author did an excellent job portraying two strong characters each striving for their own success, but trying to stay together. The book is fiction, but so well done that you can feel the tension of real people.
I did have trouble with some of the author’s descriptions. She seemed to be trying too hard to find unusual ways to describe what Martha was seeing. The descriptions were sometimes so unusual that they broke the flow of the story while I tried to figure out what she was trying to show.
On the whole, this is a very good book. If you enjoy fiction based on the lives of real people, I think you’ll enjoy this one.
I received this book from Net Galley for this review.