A Farewell to Arms - Ernest Hemingway On completion: I liked this very much. I enjoy Hemingway’s succinct prose. In all its simplicity you are free to fill in all the hidden thoughts. So much more is said than the few simple words. I find the language perfect for the characters, the time period and the circumstances. Others dislike how sometimes the language used is repetitive. I don’t mind this at all. For me it feels like real people talking. People do talk this way. Maybe because I listened to the audiobook (narrated by John Slattery),the repetitiveness simply had the air of real conversations.

I loved that the story offers contrasts. War and love. I am a bit tired of just trench warfare, after all the books I have been reading about WW1. I needed some humor. I needed something nice thrown in once and a while. Hey, these other books could have thrown in some humor and happiness. The sun must have shined for just a few seconds; someone could have noticed its warmth and brightness. Isn’t that so?

Basically this is a love story. Amazing, I don’t read love stories. If more love stories were like this they would be my favorite genre. This is a real love story, with the good and the bad all mixed up together. Wonderful humor, too. It too is real:

Question: “Do you know anything about art?”
Answer: “Reubens! Large and fat.”

Or

“The war seemed as far away as the football games of someone else’s college.”

Or

“Are you sleepy?”
“I am asleep right now.”

This is the talk of happy people, and you smile as you read.

There are other wonderful lines:

“Old men do not grow wise. They grow careful. “

These are the words of a 94 year-old.

So I like the writing. I also like the contrasts: that it is about war and love, that nice things happen and very terrible things too. Years ago I read “The Old Man and the Sea”, but that was so terribly boring. This is better, much better. I highly recommend it.

One more little thing: picture this. Picture escape in a rowboat in the pouring rain and wind. Picture rowing and rowing and rowing and all you can do is think there must be some other way of going fast because you have to hurry. So you hold up your big strong umbrella and the wind catches it and you fly along :0) ………until that dam umbrella turns inside out and there you sit with the broken umbrella in hand. Back to the rowing. To understand what is going on you have to read the book. Read it for me. I really, really liked it. So of course, four stars.

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Thoughts while reading:

And I also like the banter between Frederic Henry and his girlfriend, Catherine. The language they use is simple but exactly representative of those times. Men/women relationships have altered since then; the prose depicts those times AND how men and women feel even today when they are attracted to each other. BOTH come through. If I were not so lazy I would try and write some of the lines here.

Another thing. It is nice that the tone of the book is lightened by humor and happiness, given the dreadful war background. You feel how the soldiers NEED women. To fight they need to believe in something good too. This need is because of the terribleness of the times, so it is so good that it is part of the book. And the women need the men too. It is not one-sided.

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I like this. I appreciate the clear strong prose. And finally a book about WW1 that has some humor thrown in. He has me laughing at the doctors, which is truly amazing. The book is partially autobiographical. Hemingway worked as an ambulance driver in Italy during WW1. Did he fall in love then too?