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.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
While I love pretty much all type of historical fiction, my favorite has to be the ones that involve actual historical figures. I really love learning about different people from history but i struggle with non fiction and find it to be quite dense and dry. That’s why well researched historical fiction novels involving real people is my favorite way to gain knowledge that I wouldn’t otherwise have.
Clayton did an amazing job at researching and creating an authentic story that had me at the edge of my seat for the entire seat. It’s very evident from her author’s note that she did an astounding amount of research for Beautiful Exiles so she could be as accurate as possible. I truly felt like I was just reading a really great auto-biography which I think is a sign of a masterfully executed book.
Books like these are kind of hard to review because after all the author is depicting people who actually existed so it’s not really like they’re creating the personalities out of thin air. I think the big challenge with writing a book like this is finding where the line between fiction and reality blurs. I admire any author who decides to write a book like this because accuracy and authenticity is key and Clayton did a really great job with that. She really made me feel for Martha Gellhorn and I loved seeing her journey as a journalist and as a person in general. By the end of the book, I was googling her to find out more. I love reading books that highlight people who may not always be talked about as being key historical figures but who are just as important. Of course I’ve heard about Ernest Hemmingway and Iliked the fact that I learnt much more about him but the reason I liked this book was that this book showed how Martha Gellhorn was so much more than just Hemmingway’s third wife.
Reading books that featue real people make for a much more intense experiences. In normal fiction, you feel for the characters, and you sympathisize with them but at the end you know that they’re fictional. On the other hand, In Beautiful Exiles my empathy was heightened immensely because these aren’t just characters from Clayton’s imagination but people who suffered and loved. In some books like these, the characters feel like merely shadows of the real person but Clayton managed to capture all the characters in such a beautiful light.
What’s Your Favorite Book Featuring Historical Characters?