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.
[Beautiful Exiles] is an immensely ambitious undertaking, given the mountains of material already written by and about authors ... [a] love-sex-booze-intrigue-politics-war-literary culture-travel-packed saga ... Clayton works hard to serve up micro and macro: intimate words and sensuous moments set against the world’s strife and (later) World War II ... Exiles suggests that the years with Hemingway formed a kind of defining backbone of vibrant, if bittersweet, memory.
The book is so well written that at times I forgot I was reading a novel, and instead found myself immersed in the roar of battle, either on the front lines or in their living room. This is highly recommended reading because the plot is well paced, the characters ring true, and the story reveals the difficulties of two strong-willed people at odds with one another.
Clayton uses her meticulous research skills to bring to life the wartime years of Martha Gellhorn ... Clayton brilliantly demonstrates the ways in which both Gellhorn’s articles for Collier’s and the novels Hemingway wrote during those years ... Clayton’s take on their boozy, love-hate relationship is packed with details of the war... a dramatic backdrop for her fictional tale of two vivid personalities and world-altering writers.