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 from Antoine de Saint-Exupery to John Dos Passos - living as intensely as they had ever done, against the backdrop of a critical moment in history. Amanda Vaill has mined the raw material of unpublished letters, diaries, and reels of film - including Martha Gellhorn's personal papers and Capa and Taro's recently rediscovered 'Mexican Suitcase' negatives. The result is a narrative of love and reinvention that is, finally, a story about truth, finding it, telling it - and living it, whatever the cost.
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC