Monday, January 2, 2017

Review: A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Farewell To Arms Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Published 2004 by Arrow Books (first published 1929)
Read: Nov. 4 - Dec. 18, 2016

As much as I enjoy books set in wartime, I had a difficult time getting into A Farewell to Arms. I attribute that to Hemingway's style, which is a lot more simple and conversational than I am accustomed to reading. When I started listening to an audio version, I couldn't get enough of it though I think that is because of his simplistic/conversational style. In written form, it is difficult to follow along, keep track of who is speaking during conversations, and remember the point of many of his run-on sentences.

And besides style, the story itself didn't reel me in; reference not intended towards Hemingway's love of fly fishing. I didn't care enough about the self-absorbed, unfeeling protagonist of Lieutenant Frederic Henry, let alone his girlfriend (Catherine Barkley) who didn't seem to have the ability to form an opinion on her own. When a male author has any sort of dislike for women, or obvious hate for them in this instance, it's obvious in their writing because of how they portray their female characters. The points I felt like I was physically there in the story were when Lt. Henry was with his unit, not when he was with Catherine. The other men in his unit actually had some substance to them, unlike Catherine. My opinion of both Henry and Barkley were most likely biased by my reading of The Paris Wife by Paula McLain just before reading A Farewell to Arms. The Paris Wife is a fictionalized story of Hemingway's marriage to his first wife, Hadley Richardson, from her perspective - review to come in a different post.

Readers will be left wondering how much of the story was based on truth and what Hemingway experienced during and after WWI.

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