Paula McLain

New York Times bestselling author

A Letter from Paula…

Dear Reader,

I am hopelessly drawn to the stories of women—bold and singular women who set their own course and create their own destiny. Who survive the seemingly unsurvivable, and somehow become themselves along the way. 

I find my characters intuitively, by instinct, though sometimes the process feels like something closer to magic. Once I’ve dug in, I become completely obsessed and can’t think of anything else. It’s like falling in love. It is love. 

Martha Gellhorn, the fierce heroine at the center of Love and Ruin, came looking for me, I think. Though I was familiar with Gellhorn’s role as Ernest Hemingway’s third wife, I’d overlooked her as a possible subject for fiction precisely because of that. Then, a few years ago, I dreamed of her, a dream so vivid and insistent that she seemed to be slapping me awake. Demanding to be noticed and acknowledged as herself, for her own accomplishments and ambitions, which are—make no mistake—extraordinary.

One of the greatest journalists and war correspondents (male or female) in history, Gellhorn reported on virtually every major conflict of the twentieth century, from the Spanish Civil War, when she was twenty-eight, to the invasion of Panama, which she covered at age eighty-one. She published more than a dozen books in her lifetime, traveled to nearly sixty countries, and devoted her life to speaking out against oppression wherever she saw it. In fearlessly bringing to life the voices of those who couldn’t speak for themselves, she found her own voice, and her destiny. 

She came of age as a writer, and her own woman, in one of the most turbulent times in recorded history, as nations tumbled toward the Second World War. She’s one of the bravest, most inspiring women I’ve ever encountered, and if her life has somehow escaped our collective consciousness before now, the time has come to set the record straight. I can’t wait for you to meet her, to know her. The incandescent, one-of-a-kind Martha Gellhorn.

Paula McLain


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