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  1. Key West, 1936. Headstrong, accomplished journalist Martha Gellhorn is confident with words but less so with men when she meets disheveled literary titan Ernest Hemingway in a dive bar. Their friendship—forged over writing, talk, and family dinners—flourishes into something undeniable in Madrid while they’re covering the Spanish Civil War. Martha reveres him. The very married Hemingway is taken with Martha—her beauty, her ambition, and her fearless spirit. And as Hemingway tells her, the most powerful love stories are always set against the fury of war. The risks are so much greater. They’re made for each other. With their romance unfolding as they travel the globe, Martha establishes herself as one of the world’s foremost war correspondents, and Hemingway begins the novel that will win him the Nobel Prize for Literature. Beautiful Exiles is a stirring story of lovers and rivals, of the breathless attraction to power and fame, and of one woman—ahead of her time—claiming her own identity from the wreckage of love. Well that's what it says on Amazon... I find historical fiction an interesting concept. It's more challenging when the characters are famous and where so much has been written about them. This novel is based on the events as we know them, but how much is fiction and how much is fact? Gellhorn comes across as a women who respects Hemmingway as an author, likes him as a man (sometimes), but is not sure if she loves him. Hemingway is presented as an author who knows his own worth, but is fragile as a man (it's all a front). He is the weak character here, the flawed genius. The novel is written in the first person and told by Martha Gellhorn so we are presented with her take on their brief relationship. The story told is from their first meeting to their divorce, the years 1936 to 1944. As an exploration of a relationship that was perhaps always going to fail, it's very good. As an encouragement to read some Martha Gellhorn, well I'm convinced. My main criticism? It reads a but too much like Hemingway in places. Especially the conversations with him. Did he really speak the way he wrote? Worth a try.
  2. To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway tells the story of Harry Morgan, an erstwhile deep sea charter boat captain, who turns to smuggling various contraband when his fishing business dries up during the depression. It is told in 3 sections titled spring, fall and winter, each detailing events of Harry’s downward spiral. This was a mixed bag for me. The story itself was interesting, but Harry, a murderous bigot as well as a man trying to take care of his family, was not a sympathetic character. And it really bounces around in the third section, bringing in a lot of characters, many of which only get a page or two. But those brief sketches were well done(well, the men were; the women never seemed flesh and blood), even though I have no idea what part most of them played in the book. Overall I’m glad I read this. But if it had been my first Hemingway I’m not sure it wouldn’t have been my last.
  3. RESTORED THREAD January 2013 megustaleer 15th February 2011, 09:13 AM from wikipedia: I nearly discarded this book after a couple of chapters, as I really did not like any of the characters portrayed in it. These young people, living a hedonistic life in the Paris of what we now refer to as ‘The Roaring Twenties’ appeared superficial, purposeless and unfulfilled. The adjective ‘brittle’, often used of this between-the-wars generation, kept coming to my mind - they are hard, yet fragile. However, before I put the book back on the shelf the protagonists move to Spain, and there the atmosphere changed - even though the characters did not. It is known that Hemingway loved Spain, and in particular the bullfight, and demonstrating this is clearly a major feature of the book . The preparation and the build-up of excitement in a Spanish village during the days of Fiesta, leading to the culminating feast, and the firecrackers (still a feature of Spanish communal celebration) is wonderfully evoked. The most detailed and dramatic scenes are those of the bullfights themselves, and of the dedication of the most talented matadors. Here the book really comes alive, and whatever you think of bullfighting as a sport or entertainment, these are the highlight of the book. Hemingway’s love of the corrida, and of the Spanish people, is very evident. The title under which the first English edition was published - Fiesta - captures the spirit of the central ‘Spanish’ passages, but the original American title (a quote from Ecclesiastes): does sum up the overall message as I read it, the futility of human endeavour - certainly as viewed by that generation. ------------------------------------------- Calliope 15th February 2011, 08:37 PM I'm so glad you stuck with it, Meg. This is my favourite Hemingway novel and one of my favourite novels of all time (even though I studied it in American lit at uni, and not many novels survived that!). I know exactly what you mean by brittle, too, although that's not a word I had thought to used myself. Brett is very, very fragile (despite her masculine name) and I think that's one further was that the masculine characters are injured (I want to say weakened, but that's not the right word, even though Jake is both injured and weakened) by their war experiences. I hate sentimentalism in novels and I think that's why the last line in this one brings a tear to my eye. It's the way real emotion is, thrumming beneath the surface of the words the way it thrums beneath real life,
  4. A tale of love during the First World War. The narrator is an ambulance officer in the Italian army who falls in love with an English nurse and, while he recovering from an injury caused by a shell, their relationship develops. This is a simple tale well told with some insights into war and love and is marvelously of its time.
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