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Beautiful Exiles by Meg Waite Clayton
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Beautiful Exiles

by Meg Waite Clayton

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I will never claim to have a great literary knowledge and this book just proves it. Ernest Hemingway is a well-known author and I am pretty unfamiliar with his work. I am not familiar at all with his history and have no knowledge of his personal life. So when I picked up Beautiful Exiles I was entirely unsure what I was going to be reading. While I still will not claim to be a know it all about Hemingway I will say that I had my eyes opened as to how selfish, demanding, and drunken he is. I was amazed at how he treated those around him and how he thought he was a big gun (which he was in his time) so therefore he deserved special privilege. The part of the story that stuck with me was when he took Martha’s press privileges away by claiming them as his own and then not being able to get to the front lines and tell the real story.

I found this book to be a slow read but enthralling read. I was invested in Martha’s story. I was invested in the era. And I was invested in knowing how it would all end for her. The settings were shared in such detail I could picture the different cities, I could see how the world had changed due to the war, and I could feel the emotion that was felt while visiting them. I enjoyed that some of the cities were visited pre-war and then revisited after the war had hit them or while the war had was going on and you could feel the difference in the people, the city, and the feelings.

Beautiful Exiles is an amazing, eye-opening, heart string pulling story. I am excited to be sharing it and am looking forward to reading more of Meg Waite Clayton’s book. ( )
  Charlotte_Lynn | Aug 1, 2018 |
My knowledge of Hemingway runs no farther than The Old Man and the Sea, a staple of most high school English classes. I only have a vague memory of slogging thru, his writing clearly not for me. As a result, I've never pursued any more reading, let alone research, on him (or his wives) and therefore honestly had no frame of reference going into Beautiful Exiles, other than having read Meg Waite Clayton's previous books and being a fan of her writing.

Painstakingly researched and beautifully written, this book is not about Hemingway; instead it is about Martha Gellhorn, a writer and eventual prominent war correspondent, who became Hemingway's third wife. Told in the first-person, Gelhorn proves to be just as strong-willed as Hemingway, and more often than not, I found myself wishing she would strike out on her own and leave the self-inflated Hemingway behind. We are given a Gelhorn who is a force unto herself, who is not overshadowed by the sometimes more famous characters around her.

The writing is spot on; whether describing the peaceful, lazy days in Key West or the fast paced, immediate action of being on the front line, I could easily imagine each scene. The detail and descriptions were perfect and really brought the characters, and their situations, to life. Clayton's writing continues to get stronger with each book, and it clearly shows here.

In my admitted non-existent knowledge of Martha Gelhorn, I appreciate Beautiful Exiles all the more; everyone knows Hemingway, but I'm not so sure about Gelhorn. Clayton has given me a perspective on a woman ahead of her time, who was willing to put her life on the line to make sure the world knew what was happening in Europe during Hitler's rise to power. I found Gelhorn fascinating and am sorry that she had become overshadowed by Hemingway, at least in my experience. I want to find out more about her, and I think that a book like Beautiful Exiles, one that sparks that kind of interest in me, is always remarkable. ( )
  tapestry100 | Jul 31, 2018 |
I first read about Martha Gelhorn in the notes from this author's book Race for Paris. I was intrigued with her bravery and her goal to be one of the first women writers in France after the Normandy invasion. She was a feminist before her time. Reading this book made me want to learn more about her and her life after WWII and I found her to be a very interesting woman. Thanks to Meg Waite Clayton for her deep research into a small time period of this interesting woman's life.

Martha Gelhorn first met Ernest Hemingway in a bar in Key West in 1936. They became friends and traveled to Spain together to cover the Spanish Civil War. I was amazed at how close they got to the fighting in the war, often sharing a fox hole with soldiers to avoid bombs. It was a gritty and exciting time for both of them and they soon became more than friends even though he was still married. As they traveled around the world together looking for more excitement - Spain, Italy, China and Cuba, their love for each other grew as much as their dislike for each other. Hemingway admired her for her bravery but wanted to keep her in a little box as his wife without realizing that she would lose what first attracted him to her. She wanted to live life to the fullest and not be tied down to being a wife. With these two opposing views, it's amazing that they stayed together as long as they did.

I enjoyed this look at Martha Gelhorn's life - both personal and professional. She was brave and caring and influenced many people with her reporting. Thanks to the author for this intimate portrait.

Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own. ( )
  susan0316 | Jul 30, 2018 |
This book focuses on one of my favorite authors, Ernest Hemingway, and his third wife, Martha Gelhorn, or Marty has her friends call her. This is a story of two powerful personalities with great talent who respect, love, yet envy each other.

The wonderful thing about this novel is that you feel transported to the 1930's. The authors talent in describing everything, without too many words, is excellent. I felt as though I was in the same rooms, in the war zones, because the author was able to take me there. She does the same with the characterization of Hemingway and Gelhorn and those around them. You come away from the book feeling you know these people intimately.

I read this book as a fan of Hemingway (and I still am - he was one of the first authors my reader father introduced me to as a girl) and so, although I know he was a flawed man, this book really focuses on those flaws. Because of my great admiration for the writer, I found this a bit off-putting. I think both of these people were flawed, yet I felt the author giving much more sympathy to Gelhorn, which is what I think she was going for.

I do think that in real life, these two people brought out the worst in each other and this book very much reveals that. It's a difficult read from the point of view that you can see these talented people are wasting their life on booze and self absorption. We go through their relationship from the beginning to it's end and it's one bumpy ride!

This was not an easy read for me, yet it was still a good story. I think I would have liked to have seen more good in these two people, instead of so much distasteful stuff. Everyone is flawed but this book really focuses on these two people's failings. Despite this, I enjoyed the authors writing style. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me for my honest review by Little Bird Publicity ( )
  Julie.D | Jul 28, 2018 |
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