Love and Ruin Summary & Study Guide

Paula McLain
This Study Guide consists of approximately 43 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Love and Ruin.
This section contains 519 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Love and Ruin Summary & Study Guide Description

Love and Ruin Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Love and Ruin by Paula McLain.

This study guide was created using the following version of this book: McLain, Paula. Love and Ruin. Ballantine Books, 2018.

Martha Gellhorn is called back to her home town of St. Louis, Missouri because her father is in ill health. Martha fears that her father will die and wrestles with whether or not she will ever be able to win her father’s approval. After Martha declines her mother’s offer to stay with them while she writes, Martha begins her journey east. Martha learns her father has died and must return home.

While traveling with her mother to Florida a year later, Martha meets Ernest Hemingway. Ernest offers to give Martha and her family a tour of Key West. They take Ernest up on his offer and Martha and Ernest begin a friendship. Martha is interested in reporting on the uprising taking place in Spain. Ernest offers to look out for Martha if she can find passage and credentials to go overseas as a correspondent.

Martha begins writing for Vogue to earn money and obtains a letter from Collier’s to write for them as a correspondent. Martha falls in with Ernest and his friends, including Lillian Hellman and John Dos Passos. Martha understands her position as an amateur in the group, but seeks to learn. During their time in Spain, Martha and Ernest begin an affair while Ernest remains married to his second wife Pauline.

Martha is reluctant, but admits that she has developed feelings for Ernest. Their affair takes them back to Ernest’s home in Cuba. The couple settles into a writing routine as well. Martha feels overshadowed by Ernest’s writing accomplishments. When reviews of Martha’s book mention that Martha is Hemingway’s mistress or suggests her writing style is a pale comparison to Ernest’s, Martha feels defeated.

While Ernest and Martha are together, Ernest writes furiously on For Whom the Bell Tolls. Ernest believes that his book is something special and is pleased with the glowing reviews and tremendous royalties. After the success of the book, Ernest’s insecurities about being able to write again surface. Ernest is hurt by Martha’s ambitions to write as well. When Martha travels for a writing assignment, Ernest feels abandoned and betrayed. Martha promises not to leave Ernest again, but her writing eventually takes her away.

Ernest finally divorces his wife Pauline and then marries Martha. Martha grows close with Ernest’s children, particularly with Ernest’s eldest son Bumby. Ernest wants to have a daughter with Martha, but Martha is reluctant to have children and this persists as a conflict in their relationship.

After Pearl Harbor is attacked, Martha wants to go back to Europe to report on the war. When Martha meets with Collier’s, she learns that they are sending Ernest on their behalf instead. Martha feels betrayed and marginalized. Martha manages to get to Europe and earns her byline with Collier’s after sneaking onto a hospital ship that lands on Omaha Beach during D-Day.

Martha and Ernest’s marriage fails and they divorce. Martha to writer.

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This section contains 519 words
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