Books Magazine

Beautiful Exiles by Meg Waite Clayton

By Pamelascott

Key West, 1936. Headstrong, accomplished journalist Martha Gellhorn is confident with words but less so with men when she meets dishevelled literary titan Ernest Hemingway in a dive bar. Their friendship-forged over writing, talk, and family dinners-flourishes into something undeniable in Madrid while they're covering the Spanish Civil War.

Martha reveres him. The very married Hemingway is taken with Martha-her beauty, her ambition, and her fearless spirit. And as Hemingway tells her, the most powerful love stories are always set against the fury of war. The risks are so much greater. They're made for each other.

With their romance unfolding as they travel the globe, Martha establishes herself as one of the world's foremost war correspondents, and Hemingway begins the novel that will win him the Nobel Prize for Literature. Beautiful Exiles is a stirring story of lovers and rivals, of the breathless attraction to power and fame, and of one woman-ahead of her time-claiming her own identity from the wreckage of love.

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(Lake Union Publishing, 1 August 2018, ebook, 366 pages, Amazon First Reads)

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I'd never heard of Martha Gellhorn until I read this book. I knew of Hemmingway though. Who doesn't. Though I've only read one of his books, The Old Man and The Sea. I was riveted by this book which shines a light on a famous (or father infamous) marriage. I thought Martha was great. She's feisty, strong, independent and more than a match for boozy Hemmingway. She was more tolerant than I could have been in her books. Hemmingway's life is almost more infamous than his writing, especially his boozing. The author does a cracking job of bringing this larger than life character to life. He's a drunkard and a bully and a pig but you sort of love him as well. I found the book terrible sad towards the end as Martha is forced to do some soul-searching and decide to do what's right for her. Beautiful Exiles is a cracking book.

Beautiful Exiles by Meg Waite Clayton

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