Wisdom of the Ages: An Author’s Take From Love and Ruin’s author Paula McLain
Paula McLain, 53, the internationally bestselling author of The Paris Wife, returns to the subject of Ernest Hemingway in her latest novel, Love and Ruin, which dives into his passionate, volatile third marriage to Martha Gellhorn. The legendary author was married a total of four times, but it was Gellhorn who captured the public’s imagination most. Their marriage, from 1940 to 1945, was the subject of the 2012 film Hemingway & Gellhorn, which saw the couple played by Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman. Like The Paris Wife, which told the story of Hadley Hemingway, Ernest’s first wife, Love and Ruin is historically accurate and extensively researched. Adding to the book’s buzz is that this is the first novel ever written about Gellhorn, the legendary war correspondent who published more than a dozen books in her lifetime.
What motivated McLain to continuetoexploreHemingway’spersonal life? “I was inspired to write Love and Ruin when I had a crazily vivid dream of fishing with Hemingway and his third wife, Martha Gellhorn. The next morning, I Googled her, and that was that,” says McLain. “Not only was she one of the most important journalists and war correspondents of the 20th century but also one of the bravest and most original women I’ve ever encountered.”
What advice do you wish you’d given your 25-year-old self? Keep the faith. You’re not as much of a wreck as you think you are.
What advice would you give your 80-year-old self? Listen to your own voice first.
What do you know for sure? Change is gonna come!
What have you learned? You can’t make everyone happy. Scratch that. You can’t make anyone happy.
What will you never learn? How to pilot a plane.
Best piece of advice? In fiction, there are no absolute villains and no absolute heroes, either. That’s true in life as well. Did it work? It did.
What inspires you? Unlikely hope in others.
The moment that changed everything? My first creative writing class, at the age of 24.
Happiness is … Fleeting and constant and nearer than you think.
53 Gellhorn and Hemingway on the beach at Waikiki.