Author explores ‘Love and Ruin’

Cleveland Heights author Paula McLain’s breakthrough novel was The Paris Wife, about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson, and their life in Jazz Age Europe. That marriage ended when Hemingway began an affair with journalist Pauline Pfeiffer.

McLain says, in a preface to her new novel Love and Ruin, that she “was never again going to write about Hemingway … it was time to move on.” Love and Ruin is about journalist Martha Gellhorn, Hemingway’s third wife, and their challenging relationship.

After working for the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, reporting on the devastation caused by the Depression, and a failed book, Gellhorn traveled to Key West with her mother and brother, an attempt at healing after the death of her father. There, they ran into Hemingway in a bar. He invited them to his home, where he lived with Pauline and their sons, gave them a tour of the island and encouraged Gellhorn in her aspiration to cover the Spanish Civil War.

In New York, Gellhorn met luminaries like John Dos Passos and Lillian Hellman, and wangled press credentials from Collier’s magazine. The scenes set in Spain are brutal, with the writers diving for cover from shells in wrecked town squares; Gellhorn walks in the trenches and talks to a young soldier reading Walden. Hemingway is protective of her, calling her “daughter,” but it is in Madrid that their affair begins.

Four years pass, during which the two live together in Cuba, Hemingway working on For Whom the Bell Tolls and Gellhorn on a novel. Pauline eventually gives him a divorce and they marry. Gellhorn is at first not considered for a plum assignment to cover the Sino-Japanese war because she is now Mrs. Hemingway, but their honeymoon moves from a posh New York hotel to the brothels and opium dens of Hong Kong.

They argue about his drinking. When Gellhorn is writing dispatches from the European Front in 1944 for Collier’s, her editor tells her they’ve hired Ernest and will use his work instead. She covers D-Day anyway.

Love and Ruin (386 pages, hardcover) costs $28 from Ballantine. Paula McLain also is the author of Circling the Sun, a novel about aviator Beryl Markham’s life in 1920s Kenya, and A Ticket to Ride, about a naïve girl who comes to live with her uncle and manipulative cousin in 1973 Illinois.

Paula McLain will talk about Love and Ruin from 7-8:30 p.m. Friday at the Parma-Snow branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, 2121 Snow Road. Registrations are required; call 216-661-4240. The $25 charge includes a copy of the book and a donation to the Cuyahoga County Public Library Foundation.

McLain also will appear at 4 p.m. Saturday at Newbury Auditorium, 14775 Auburn Road, Newbury, and at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Loganberry Books, 13015 Larchmere Blvd., Shaker Heights.

Events

Barnes & Noble (7900 Mentor Ave., Mentor) — Michael J. Jordan signs The Company of Demons, a novel about a return of Cleveland’s Torso Murderer, 1-3 p.m. Sunday.

Learned Owl Book Shop (204 N. Main St., Hudson) — Former Cuyahoga Falls resident Patrick Parr talks about and signs The Seminarian: Martin Luther King Jr. Comes of Age, 2-3:30 p.m. Sunday.

Akron-Summit County Public Library (Tallmadge branch, 90 Community Road) — Patrick Parr speaks on MLK Before Montgomery and signs The Seminarian, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Akron-Summit County Public Library (Richfield branch, 3761 Grant St.) — D.M. Pulley talks about her third novel The Unclaimed Victim, about the 1930s Torso Killer, 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesday.

Hudson Library & Historical Society (96 Library St.) — Mansfield native Edward J. Larson, whose Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate over Science and Religion received the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for History, discusses To the Edges of the Earth: 1909, the Race for Three Poles, and the Climax of the Age of Exploration, 7-9 p.m. Thursday. (This event was originally scheduled for Wednesday.) Register at 330-653-6658.

Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library (3512 Darrow Road, Stow) — Laura DeMarco signs her pictorial Lost Cleveland, 7 p.m. Thursday. Register at smfpl.org.

Kent State University Bookstore (Student Center, 1075 Risman Drive) — The annual May 4 Author Event features Laura Davis (This We Know: A Chronology of the Shootings at Kent State, May 1970, with Mark Seeman and Carole A. Barbato), Craig Simpson and Greg Wilson (Above the Shots: An Oral History of the Kent State Shootings), Jerry Lewis and Thomas Hensley (Kent State & May 4th: A Social Science Perspective), David Hassler (the play May 4th Voices: Kent State, 1970), Tom Grace (Kent State: Death and Dissent in the Long Sixties), Miriam Jackson (We Shall Not Be Moved: The May 4th Coalition, the Gym Struggle at Kent State University of 1977 and the Question of Ultimate National Control), Susan Erenrich (Grassroots Leadership & the Arts for Social Change) and Sabrina Fedel (Leaving Kent State), 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday.

Barnes & Noble (4015 Medina Road, Bath Township) — Michael J. Jordan signs The Company of Demons, noon Saturday.

— Barbara McIntyre

ABJ/Ohio.com correspondent

Send information about books of local interest to Lynne Sherwin, Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or lsherwin@thebeaconjournal.com. Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.