In 1937, courageous and independent Martha Gellhorn travels to Madrid to report on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War, and finds herself drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught in devastating conflict. She also finds herself unexpectedly - and uncontrollably - falling in love with Ernest Hemingway, a man already on his way to being a legend. In the shadow of the impending Second World War, and set against the tumultuous backdrops of Madrid, Finland, China, and especially Cuba, where Martha and Hemingway made their home, their relationship and professional careers ignite.
But when Hemingway publishes the biggest literary success of his career, they are no longer equals, and Martha must make a choice: surrender to the suffocating demands of a domestic lifestyle, or risk losing her husband by forging her way as her own woman and writer. It is a dilemma that will force her to break his heart, and her own.
Based on a true story
Martha Gellhorn was one of the greatest war correspondents of the 20th century
FOR WHOM THE BELLS TOLLS was dedicated to Martha, and inspired by the time they were together in Spain. It was Hemingway's most successful book to date, it sold half a million copies within months, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and triumphantly reestablished his literary reputation
McLain (The Paris Wife) strikingly depicts Martha Gellhorn's burgeoning career as a writer and war correspondent during the years of her affair with and marriage to Ernest Hemingway. The narrative begins when Gellhorn, who has garnered national recognition for her field reporting on the Great Depression, meets Hemingway and travels with him to cover the Spanish Civil War at his suggestion. The war both horrifies and inspires her to continue writing, particularly one traumatic moment when she witnesses a child being killed by a mortar. While in Spain, Gellhorn and Hemingway become romantically involved and then move to Cuba, set up house, and launch into a productive period of writing and publishing. Things go well for a few years, but Hemingway's neediness and jealousy eventually poisons their happiness and forces Gellhorn to choose between her own career and indulging his desire for a devoted wife. Realizing her true passion comes from on-the-ground reporting, Gellhorn decides to cover D-Day by leaving Hemingway and stowing away on the first hospital ship to land at Normandy, wading ashore to become the "first journalist, male or female, to make it there and report back." Gellhorn emerges as a fierce trailblazer every bit Hemingway's equal in this thrilling book.