Rating: 2/5 stars.
If I had read and rated this book two stars a year ago, perhaps I would have felt guilty. But that phase of my life is over. Though I am still somewhat scared that all of my future English professors will peer into my mind, feel my distaste for A Farewell to Arms, and proceed to punch me in the face.
There are a lot of great literary things going on here, and I can see why Hemingway in general is so well-received. Despite his imperfect personal life, his writing conveyed great beauty at times. This book delves into the brutality of battle and war, the torrid tale of two star-crossed lovers, and a multitude of other motifs and themes. If my ratings were based solely on literary merit this book would be much better off.
But, this is a book I wanted to feel. I wanted to experience the emotions of love and loss, to be consumed in the crashing waves of power and passion. I was not. Maybe Hemingway wrote Henry in such a stoic way to juxtapose his personality with the severity of war, but as a whole I was not convinced. I did not connect to any of the characters, and while I recognized how horrible the war was, I never truly cared.
Similar to what I said earlier, you can read many rave reviews filled with quotes of Hemingway’s beautiful writing – I am not a fan, though this is only my first book by him. Hopefully I will enjoy his other books more!
I did like this brief exchange, though…
“‘Hell, I said, “I love you enough now. What do you want to do? Ruin me?’
‘Yes. I want to ruin you.’
‘Good,’ I said, ‘that’s what I want too.’”