by Carl Rollyson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Dec. 7, 1990
A graceful, clearheaded biography of the cranky, energetic war correspondent, novelist, and impassioned advocate for liberal causes who, to her monumental disgust, is still best known as Hemingway's third wife. Scorned by Gellhorn, now in her 80s, as an ""academic kook,"" Rollyson (Lillian Hellman: Her Legend and Her Legacy, 1988) plowed ahead with this life of a big, brainy, steel-willed St. Louis blonde knockout who grew up in a wealthy family of ""cosmopolitan individualists"" and quit Bryn Mawr before graduation so she could ""avoid the curse of respectability."" Banging around Europe and the Dust Bowl South in the 20's and 30's, Gellhorn overcame sexism and unaccustomed physical squalor to make a distinguished career reporting vividly on the Depression's least visible casualties and on the horrors of the century's first ""total war"" in Spain. Later she covered WW II--infuriating Hemingway by landing with the troops on D-day while he languished off-shore--and the Vietnam War, which depressed Gellhorn so deeply that she was unable to write for five years. Gellhorn liked men, marrying a French aristocrat before Hemingway and editor-poet T.S. Matthews after, and stole away a European physician who seems to have been the secret love of her friend Eleanor Roosevelt. But for reasons Rollyson does not plumb, Gellhorn liked her independence even more than she liked her men, all of whom she eventually fled. She and Hemingway fought from the start: She was casually macho; he had to work at it. In a way, she was Hemingway, without the booze, lies, and posturing--and the great fiction. A worthy and highly readable attempt to limn one of the memorable characters of the American century.
Pub Date: Dec. 7, 1990
Page Count: -
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1990
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