Her life story could be worthy of its own biopic, with her ex-husband as a small player in such a big life, while her work and letters should receive the type of treatment other writers of her stature (and even lesser stature) have been treated to. But I’d be most curious to see somebody take up the challenge of putting out a proper new edition of her debut novel, What Mad Pursuit.
I can’t actually tell you if the book is any good or not, since I’ve never had a copy in my hands. But the novel, which is described in Hotel Florida as “a quasi-autobiographical chick-lit bildungsroman about three college girls looking for sex and the meaning of life but instead finding disillusion and the clap,” sounds like something I’d actually like to read, despite the 1934 review that stated it was “a rather futile book but it might have a rental library sale.”
Unhappy with the unenthusiastic response, Gellhorn moved on from her first book, and the book was never reprinted. It was pretty much lost to time until 2012, when the British Library announced that they’d acquired a “rather costly” copy of the book, which one of the library’s Writers in Residence called “a real pleasure” to read. Writing at the British Library blog [click “Text only” to read]:
One reviewer called What Mad Pursuit ‘palpable juvenilia’ – and that’s precisely why it’s interesting: it helps tell the story of Gellhorn before she became the feted war reporter, and before she became the second half of a very famous literary marriage.
It seems like a no-brainer: people know who Gellhorn is, and people are interested to know more about her. And while she’d probably look down on using it as a selling point, the Hemingway connection can’t hurt. Somebody should really figure out a way to give readers a chance to read What Mad Pursuit.