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Love & Ruin

Paula McLain

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 Bell 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

The Mercy Seat

Elizabeth H. Winthrop

As the sun begins to set over Louisiana one October day in 1943, a young black man faces the final hours of his life: at midnight, eighteen-year-old Willie Jones will be executed by electric chair for raping a white girl - a crime some believe he did not commit.

In a tale taut with tension, events unfold hour by hour from the perspectives of nine people involved. They include Willie himself, who knows what really happened, and his father, desperately trying to reach the town jail to see his son one last time; the prosecuting lawyer, haunted by being forced to seek the death penalty against his convictions, and his wife, who believes Willie to be innocent; the priest who has become a friend to Willie; and a mother whose only son is fighting in the Pacific, bent on befriending her black neighbours in defiance of her husband.

In this exceptionally powerful novel, Elizabeth Winthrop explores matters of justice, racism and the death penalty in a fresh, subtle and profoundly affecting way. Her kaleidoscopic narrative allows us to inhabit the lives of her characters and see them for what they are - complex individuals, making fateful choices we might not condone, but can understand.

A Shout in the Ruins

Kevin Powers

Following his hugely celebrated debut novel, The Yellow Birds, Kevin Powers returns to the battlefield and its aftermath, this time in his native Virginia, just before and during the Civil War and ninety years later. The novel pinpoints with unerring emotional depth the nature of random violence, the necessity of love and compassion, and the fragility and preciousness of life. It will endure as a stunning novel about what we leave behind, what a life is worth, what is said and unsaid, and the fact that ultimately what will survive of us is love.

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