Play Book Tag discussion

39 views
Footnotes 2017-2018 > Discussion comparison of Love and Ruin and Beautiful Exiles

Comments Showing 1-46 of 46 (46 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6891 comments Several of us have talked about having a discussion about Love and Ruin by Paula McLain and Beautiful Exiles by Meg Waite Clayton as both are about Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway.

I think we will begin discussion late September/early October.


message 2: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 8425 comments Great idea! I am planning on reading Beautiful Exiles in the next couple of weeks. Already read Love & Ruin.


message 3: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6891 comments Theresa wrote: "Great idea! I am planning on reading Beautiful Exiles in the next couple of weeks. Already read Love & Ruin."

Good, glad to have you aboard.


message 4: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments As long as a new audiobook from the library does not come in before my morning commute, I will be starting Beautiful Exiles tomorrow!


message 5: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6891 comments Nicole R wrote: "As long as a new audiobook from the library does not come in before my morning commute, I will be starting Beautiful Exiles tomorrow!"

I'm reading The Overstory now and could read Love and Ruin next or one more in between. Have to say that I'm very curious about Love and Ruin as McLain is an author I trust so what to know her take.


message 6: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Sooo, I started listening to Beautiful Exiles and I am not sure I am going to finish it. It is not that it is bad, but, because I just read Love and Ruin, it all feels irritatingly familiar (because it is) and I know what is going to happen.

It kind of feels like reading the same books twice within a month of so of each other....


message 7: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6891 comments Nicole R wrote: "Sooo, I started listening to Beautiful Exiles and I am not sure I am going to finish it. It is not that it is bad, but, because I just read Love and Ruin, it all feels irritatingly familiar (becaus..."

I understand as I was afraid that it might happen to me, but I do want to read Love and Ruin and see how they compare. I am hoping for enough differences that each adds insight.


message 8: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments I am not giving up yet. I am still intrigued by her life, which is a definite plus.

It is odd that two books in basically he same topic came out so close together!


message 9: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6891 comments Nicole R wrote: "I am not giving up yet. I am still intrigued by her life, which is a definite plus.

It is odd that two books in basically he same topic came out so close together!"


I know!
Aggravating that one was an Amazon first and the other a favorite author.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

I've got both books now. Do either of you have an opinion on which I should start first?


message 11: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6891 comments Rachel wrote: "I've got both books now. Do either of you have an opinion on which I should start first?"
One of us read one and the other read the other.

So basically I'm not sure which to read first. I have a feeling that the first read might turn out to be a favorite. Flip a coin.


message 12: by Amy (new)

Amy | 9377 comments Not having read both, I would go with Love and Ruin. Because Paula MacLaine is the author, And I have read each of her three bucks and they all have received five stars for me. Her writing is absolutely gorgeous!


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks Amy. That’s the one I’ll start with.


message 14: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments BnB, I think you are right that we will all prefer whichever one we started with! Lol


message 15: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Soooo...I decided to keep listening to Beautiful Exiles and got sucked into the story! The story of Gellhorn and Hemingway is captivating! I should finish it up while cleaning today.

I’ll check back in later woh my thoughts on the two books. It won’t have spoilers so long as you have read one of the books, and, really, probably not even then unless you know absolutely nothing about the two of them.


message 16: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6891 comments I'm still reading Overstory, but will move on to Love and Ruin next.

I think you might like Overstory, lots of science, although it is about trees. I'm actually loving the science part of the book.


message 17: by Nicole R (last edited Sep 09, 2018 08:35AM) (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Okay, my full review is here on PBT, but here are my thoughts on comparing the two:

I liked Love and Ruin better for one simple reason: McLain's writing is beautiful. Waite Clayton is a fine writer, but there is just something about McLain's words that draw me so completely into her stories and make me connect with the characters.

But, there were two things that I liked better about Beautiful Exiles. First, Waite Clayton does an excellent job of depicting Gellhorn's hesitation about marrying Hemingway. The way that she crafts the narrative of the relationship shows that it was strained from almost the beginning, but Gellhorn entered into it despite her reservations. McLain hinted at this, but McLain painted their relationship much more rosily up to when it really started to unravel not long after they were married.

Secondly, Waite Clayton had a prominent focus on Gellhorn's rumored—and admitted—disdain for sex with Hemingway. Really, her lack of enjoyment of sex with most men, though she tolerated it as a part of a relationship. McLain completely avoided this except for a few throw-away lines that basically discredited that. I am not sure if it is true, or perhaps something Gellhorn made up after the divorce to help mend her broken heart, but the two authors took different perspectives of it, and Waite Clayton's rang a bit truer.

All in all though, my slight preference for Love and Ruin came down to minor things, that all go back to the quality of writing. McLain depicted Hemingway's growing struggle with depression in a heart-wrenching way. She made me love and have sympathy for Hemingway even while despising him for the way he treated Gellhorn. She was more subtle about Gellhorn's swinging emotions about Hemingway and her marriage, and made me have more sympathy for her her. Finally, Waite Clayton's writing was a bit redundant in some parts. I swear I wanted to deduct one more star because she said SO MANY TIMES that Hemingway was "the kind of man who would rip your guts out and leave them in the street." Also, it was like Waite Clayton opened her thesaurus, was enamored by the new word she learned—scorfulous—and then proceeded to use it 17 times in the book (I counted).

My final comparison is that I preferred McLain's ending to Waite Clayton's. Waite Clayton ended the book with Hemingway's death, which I thought was a disservice to Gellhorn and her constant struggle to get out of the shadow of Hemingway.

Bottom line: You probably do not need to read both of these books as they tell the same story with the same major events (how can they not? They are based on real lives), but you really cannot go wrong with either!


message 18: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Booknblues wrote: "I'm still reading Overstory, but will move on to Love and Ruin next.

I think you might like Overstory, lots of science, although it is about trees. I'm actually loving the science part of the book."


It is on hold at the library!


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

I really do love your review Nicole. I am starting Love and Ruin today.


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

I finished Love and Ruin a few days ago. Here are my thoughts on that book.
“We each have to make our choices, and then find a way to live with them. And if we can’t, well, then, that’s when we know something has to change.”
Martha Gellhorn is the only one of Hemingway’s four wives who dared to be her own person and true to herself in a life where Hemingway seemed to be the center of attention. Her independence and feistiness are what Hemingway was attracted to, pursuing her relentlessly until she married him. But these same qualities after marriage Hemingway saw as a betrayal and ultimately destroyed her heart.
McClain’s portrayal of Ernest Hemingway was wonderfully written. A complex blend of tenderness, passion, pettiness, selfishness, and sullenness that was impossible to live with. Hemingway was a complex man and this was brilliantly executed in this novel.
Love and Ruin was thoroughly absorbing that many times I forgot I was reading a piece of fiction and instead believed I was in the midst of a memoir written by Gellhorn herself.

I am 1/2 through Beautiful Exiles right now. McLain's writing I love so much more but I will hold off my comments until I have finished. Let's just say I am not enjoying Beautiful Exiles as much.


message 21: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6891 comments I just finished Love and Ruin and having read Beautiful Exiles first, there are many things which I appreciate more about that.

I liked that it laid out the timing better. I also liked her portrayal of Gellhorn a bit more, however I think McLain nailed Hemingway.

There are differences in each in how they interpreted things. I found that McLain presented Gellhorn's mother as a more passive figure and I wonder which was more accurate.


message 22: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Rachel, great review! I agree so much with your thoughts. Looking forward to seeing what you think of Beautiful Exiles.


message 23: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments BnB, I completely agree. I think that BE captured Gellhorn better while L&R captured Hemingway better.

I honestly did not think much about the portrayal of the mom while reading, but she was definitely different in the two books. I don’t know if I would say she was more passive in L&R as much as I would say that she was just not a character that McLain even focused on other than mentioning a few of her visits to Cuba! I did like more of the focus on her in BE.


message 24: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Rachel, I loved how McLain wrote Hemingway (sorry want to say more but cannot edit my previous posts). I thought she captured his mental struggle and really painted his two sides—loving/supportive and jealous/insecure—perfectly.

The one thing I liked more about BE was the timing of when Hemingway’s mental illness really starts to show. McLain depicted it as something that manifested itself—or at least Gellhorn took notice of it—after they married. While BE gave some flashes of it prior to the marriage. But, instead of really capturing the nuances of his mental health and Gellhorn’s struggle with both her love fit and disdain of him depending on his mood, I thought BE painted Hemingway just more of a classic abusive bad guy and Gellhorn as more of the classic abused spouse. That different really gave L&R more depth and complexity.

And, I know I raved about it before, but McLain’s writing really leaves Waite’s in the dust!


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

Nicole R wrote: "Rachel, I loved how McLain wrote Hemingway (sorry want to say more but cannot edit my previous posts). I thought she captured his mental struggle and really painted his two sides—loving/supportive ..."

So far I love how McLain has portrayed Hemingway versus BE. I agree that BE shows more flashes of this before the marriage. So much so I sit there and think, "why the heck would you marry this man!"


message 26: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Yes, but he also seemed so charismatic! Someone who could just pull you into his orbit. And, he seemed so supportive of her writing. And I think we was supportive of her writing, so long as she was typing away in the room next to him and not traipsing around war zones thousands of miles from him. Oh, and as long as she remembered to prioritize his writing over hers.

And, not for nothing, he was a star at that time. Definitely in the literary world but beyond that as well. I know we all like to think we are not that shallow, but I am sure that was a heady thing as well.


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

Totally agree. I just get so mad at him while I'm reading! But seriously. Ernest freaking Hemingway! Can you imagine? I think we would all be a little shallow.


message 28: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6891 comments Wouldn't it be great to have the best of each of these books rolled into one?

Also I half wish that one of them had continued her story instead of leaving off at her and Hemingway's separation..


message 29: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Agreed, BnB! It seemed a bit of a disservice to her and her continued fight for people to recognize her as more than just Hemingway’s wife by cutting the stories off at his death. Really, they cut the stories off at their divorce with just a final chapter/epilogue about his death.


message 30: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6891 comments So I decided I wanted to learn more about her and was able to get Beautiful Exile: The Life of Martha Gellhorn for free.
It won't be in early rotation, but I am interested in reading a biography about her.


message 31: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments You can’t beat a free download! It did look like that one was more of a biography of Gellhorns whole life. Keep us posted!!


message 32: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6891 comments Nicole R wrote: "You can’t beat a free download! It did look like that one was more of a biography of Gellhorns whole life. Keep us posted!!"

Will do!


message 33: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Also, I have loved talking about these two books in comparison to each other. Great idea!


message 34: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6891 comments Nicole R wrote: "Also, I have loved talking about these two books in comparison to each other. Great idea!"

Next time two books come out at the same time that are about the same subject.

Maybe we could think of similar books, because it was fun.

If I had read The Paris Wife more recently it would be fun to compare it.


message 35: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6891 comments Nicole R wrote: "Also, I have loved talking about these two books in comparison to each other. Great idea!"


If you come up with an idea, let me know. I'm in.


message 36: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments I wil! Nothing comes immediately to mind but now that it is in my mind perhaps something will jump out at me!


message 37: by [deleted user] (new)

Booknblues wrote: "Wouldn't it be great to have the best of each of these books rolled into one?

Also I half wish that one of them had continued her story instead of leaving off at her and Hemingway's separation.."


I agree. After Love and Ruin I did a little research on her. She was a fascinating woman in her own right and I would have loved for more on her "after Hemingway".


message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

Booknblues wrote: "So I decided I wanted to learn more about her and was able to get Beautiful Exile: The Life of Martha Gellhorn for free.
It won't be in early rotation, but I am interested in readin..."


Oh my goodness! I may need to read this. I would definitely love to know more about her.


message 39: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6891 comments Rachel wrote: "Booknblues wrote: "So I decided I wanted to learn more about her and was able to get Beautiful Exile: The Life of Martha Gellhorn for free.
It won't be in early rotation, but I am i..."


I've heard that there is another bio that is supposed to be better but not less expensive so I'm going this way and will let you know.


message 40: by [deleted user] (new)

Here are my thoughts on Beautiful Exiles
Beautiful Exiles is a story of two individuals who possess powerful, intense personalities along with a talent that is often difficult to see. The dynamic personalities of Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway often seem to shadow the talent they both possess as well as blur the lines of the respect and love they have for one another.
What I did love about this story is that I felt transported to the 1930's. The author, Meg Waite Clayton, has a talent for describing everything, without too many words. There were times I felt as though I was in the same rooms, in the war zones, because the author was able to take me there. She also does this with the characterization of Hemingway and Gellhorn, as well as those around them. I came away from the book feeling that I knew these people intimately.
I read this book as a fan of Hemingway, knowing he was a flawed man, but this book really focuses on those flaws. I believe both Gellhorn and Hemingway were flawed, yet I felt the author giving much more sympathy to Gellhorn.
It does seem these two people brought out the worst in each other and this book reveals that. It is a difficult read in that that you can see two talented people are wasting their life on alcohol and self-absorption. As a reader, you go through their relationship from the beginning to the end and it is one bad rollercoaster ride.
This book was not an easy read for me, yet it was still a good story. I would have liked to have seen more good in these two people, instead of so much negative. Everyone is flawed but this book focuses so deeply on these two people's failings.

Wow, this book. After reading Love and Ruin I was rocked a few times by this book. The focus on the negative of these two individuals was so different. There were honestly times I hated them both for their terrible behavior.


message 41: by [deleted user] (new)

Booknblues wrote: "Nicole R wrote: "Also, I have loved talking about these two books in comparison to each other. Great idea!"

Next time two books come out at the same time that are about the same subject.

Maybe we..."


I would love to do this again. These two books are really good to compare. Hopefully we can find some more.


message 42: by Theresa (last edited Sep 28, 2018 10:12PM) (new)

Theresa | 8425 comments I finally have picked up Beautiful Exiles to read. While enjoyable, it is not pulling me in the way Love and Ruin did, nor am I as captivated by Gellhorn as portrayed. I'll certainly continue reading it, and once finished post my thoughts. I'm wondering at this point if it was a smart move to read it so soon after reading Love and Ruin, a book I adored by an author who routinely gets 5 stars from me for her writing.


message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

I read Beautiful Exiles right after reading Love and Ruin. I do love the writing style of Love and Ruin far better. I also believe that Paula McLain writes of Hemingway's mental struggles far better. I struggled with Beautiful Exiles because it seems the author hyper-focused on anything and everything bad of these two people.


message 44: by Theresa (last edited Oct 01, 2018 04:32PM) (new)

Theresa | 8425 comments I finally finished Beautiful Exiles, gave it 3 stars as it was a bit of a slog. it definitely suffered in comparison to Love & Ruin, which I only read a couple of months ago.

It's a compelling story, and a good read, but I kept finding my attention wandering, or becoming impatient. Too often I felt that the narrator, Marty herself in the first person, was relating her memories, in a story fashion. There is a lack of immediacy.

I was particularly struck in Beautiful Exiles by two things:
First: a lot of the focus is on writing, in particular Hemingway's writing (and inability to write for long periods of time). At times I wondered if it really is just a book about Hemingway.
Second: The narrator, who is Marty telling the story in the first person, is extremely critical and negative about herself, her actions, her writing. This negativity was wearying.

In fact, Beautiful Exiles strikes me as self-deprecating reminiscences, as a support for the rather unflattering, even unsympathetic, portrait of Hemingway provided. Which is fine but I felt it did not challenge the legendary perception, in fact doing little more than kowtowing to the legend.

I am very glad I read both Beautiful Exiles and Love & Ruin as they complement each other. Even if the same story, each has a different focus, and each concentrated on detailed accounts of different events and times. I'd only choose to read them a little farther apart than I did. Love & Ruin was luminous; Beautiful Exiles a darker read.


message 45: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 8425 comments Rachel wrote: "Even if the same story, each has a different focus, and each concentrated on detailed accounts of different events and times..."

You really come away with the idea that they were a toxic mix. In fact, towards the end of was thinking that Beautiful Exiles actually makes the title of McLain's book, Love & Ruin, actually make sense in that they were ruinous to each other very clearly. But that's also what irritated me -- Beautiful Exiles was so negative that I never really felt the attraction between the two. I could not figure out why she was with him, in truth. That came through much better in Love & Ruin.


message 46: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 8425 comments Nicole R wrote:And, I know I raved about it before, but McLain’s writing really leaves Waite’s in the dust! ..."

I completely agree!


back to top