Author(s): Amanda Vaill
Amid the rubble of a city blasted by a civil war that many fear will cross borders and engulf Europe, the Hotel Florida on Madrid's chic Gran Via has become a haven for foreign journalists and writers. It is here that six people meet and find their lives changed forever. Ernest Hemingway, his career stalled, his marriage sour, hopes that this war will give him fresh material and a new romance; Martha Gellhorn, an ambitious young journalist hungry for love and experience, thinks she will find both with Hemingway in Spain. Robert Capa and Gerda Taro, idealistic and ground-breaking young photographers based in Paris, want to capture history in the making and are inventing moder photojournalism in the process. And Arturo Barea, chief of the Republican government's foreign press office, and Ilsa Kulcsar, his Austrian deputy, are struggling to balance truth-telling with their loyalty to their sometimes-compromised cause - a struggle that places both of their lives at risk. Hotel Florida traces the tangled wartime destinies of these three couples - and a host of supporting characters - living as intensely as they had ever done, against the backdrop of a critical moment in history.
It is a narrative of love and reinvention that is, finally, a story about truth, finding it, telling it - and living it, whatever the cost.
A dazzling portrait of a country at war with itself, told through the tangled lives of six writers who were all to be found sheltering from the shelling in the Hotel Florida during the siege of Madrid.
A highly original and beautifully written account of the intrepid - and sometimes crazy - journalists who risked everything to report on the Spanish Civil War. Amanda Vaill has produced a work that is by turns gripping and heartbreaking, and utterly compelling Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana and A World on Fire Fascinating ... A valiant job of pulling together so many disparate stories into a fascinating contemporaneous narrative, of why people believed things when they did. Inevitably Hemingway has all the best lines ... Vaill does a good job of showing how this mixture of ambition and conviction drives her characters onwards ... A timely reminder that there is nothing more important than telling the truth Daisy Goodwin, Sunday Times Vividly written and impeccably researched, Hotel Florida animates a fascinating cast of historical figures, speaking urgently to questions of truth and betrayal that are still compelling today. What a story! Mary Dearborn, author of biographies of Norman Mailer, Peggy Guggenheim and a forthcoming life of Ernest Hemingway Vaill weaves through the artists' tangled lives as they capture this historic moment Vogue It's a marvellous piece of historical writing, informed by the letters, diaries, fiction, photographs, and films of the time (much of it produced by Vaill's six protagonists), which captures the confusion, the desperation, and the heroism on display; this is history you can immerse yourself in, and knowing the war's wretched outcome lends a sense of tragic irony to events Independent on Sunday
Amanda Vaill is the author of the bestselling Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy-A Lost Generation Love Story, which was a national bestseller and a finalist for the National Book Critics' Circle Award in biography, and Somewhere: The Life of Jerome Robbins, for which she was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship. Somewhere was made into a documentary that won both and Emmy and a Peabody award. She has also written features and criticism for a range of journals from Allure to Washington Post Book World. She lives in New York City.