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 mOn 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.”
“The war seemed as far away as the football games of someone else’s college.”
“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.
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.
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?
You will be surprised at the very ending! I was a bit confused at times; I messed up who was being described. The story isn't meant to bNO SPOILERS!!!
You will be surprised at the very ending! I was a bit confused at times; I messed up who was being described. The story isn't meant to be spelt out clearly, but by the end you understand everything. Confusion leads to understanding. It is the story about the life of the narrator's paternal grandmother. The question is: who really knows the truth and should we readers trust all that we are told? Don't worry! You will understand at the end.
World and Italian (Cagliari in Sardinia, Milan and Genoa) historical events are woven intp the story frrom WW2 up through and beyond the Beatles. Sardinian landscape and foods are there for the taking. The central focus is craziness and love, sex and dedication to an art. The range is wide. Are you looking for some tips on bizarre sexual techniques? I laughed, others may scowl.
Even though I was grasping for understanding, I never considered giving up! Primarily becuase I enjoyed the author's ability to describe characters both physically and emotionally. I enjoyed the prose style. Here is a sample describing the grandaughter's mother, father and maternal grandmother, with whom her mother lived:
....her widowed mother, my grandmother Lia, who was severe and rigid and obsessed with order and hygiene, who waxed the floors and made you put on felt slippers, and always wore black, and whom mamma had to telephone constantly to say where she was, but she never complained. The only happy thing in mamma's life was music, which Signora Lia couldn't bear: she closed all the doors in order not to hear her daughter practice.
Mamma loved my father silently for a long time; she liked everything about him, even the fact that he was utterly in another world, and always had his sweaters on backward and never remembered what season it was and wore summer shirts until he caught bronchitis, and everyone said he was crazy. So although he was very handsome, girls didn't want to go with him for all those reasons, and especially because that kind of craziness wasn't fashionable then, and after all, neither was classical music, in which he was a genius. Mamma, however, would have sold her soul for him. (33%)
Do you enjoy this type of writing? I do.
I don't usually like novellas. In the short number of pages in this book I grew to understand the characters, I saw Sardinia and I played with the concept of what is craziness really?
I liked the book - so three stars. Three star books are worth reading, given how I rate books! ...more
When I choose how many stars to give a book, I simply ask myself did I dislike it (1 star), was it OK (2 stars), did I like it (3 stars) NO SPOILERS!!!
When I choose how many stars to give a book, I simply ask myself did I dislike it (1 star), was it OK (2 stars), did I like it (3 stars), did I really like it (4 stars) or did I find it absolutley, utterly anasing (5 stars). When I am determining the numer of stars I will give a book, I do not analyze why, I just make myself honestly consider how I felt when reading the book. I am giving this book two stars. Then comes the hard part, to determine why I have reacted as I have. I don't always know. Writing the review actually helps mu understand my own emotions. It is my emotions that determine the stars.
I assume you have already read the book description. I see no point in repeating them. I will try and explain why I gave this book 2 stars. I definitely enjoyed reading about the wide variety of topics that were discussed. You get everything from Einstein to Winston Churchill to Richard Feynman to Paul Erdös to xerosis to art to mathematics. You get lots about mathematics. Perfect numbers, prime numbers, probability, mathematical scholars, Hypatia... I could go on and on. There is lots of interesting information to be found in this book. You learn about the couple's escapades in France, Italy, Brazil and the US. There are lines of Jacques Brel's songs, dialogues in French and Italian. They spend lots of time in Brittany, France. I definitely enjoyed reading the French, hearing the Celtic village names that I recognize. I love Brittany. A reader who does not know French will loose a lot.
So if the book covers so many interesting topics, what is wrong? First of all it is extremely cerebral. Secondly, almost too many subjects are covered. There is a lack of depth to any one topic - except maybe mathematics. But I got tired with the mathematical reasoning. In fact the wife and daughter of Philip, who has died, they too get tired of his only and always analysing everything as a numerical problem.
And he tells her, I am happy. For once he is not thinking of numbers; he is not counting. (71% through the book)
I have not long agoi red a marvellous book,The Housekeeper and the Professor, the central theme of which was also mathematics. This book makes mathematics winderful. It engagingly brings to life relationships with a "family". I never felt close to Philip or Sabine or their daughter, Louise. Sabines's thoughts about her life with Philip, thoughts she has beside her dead husband the night after his death, were not enough to draw me into their lives. Their marriage was clearly rocky at intervals, but what marriage isn't? I do leave the book with the belief that they loved each other. I liked the sparkle in the last two pages. You must read the book to find out what I am referring to!, Perhaps you will not agree with me, but think their marriage was floundering.
No, it is definitely not a bad book, but too cerebral for my tastes. I want to feel attached to the characters. I can be mad at them or I can like them, but they must move me one way or the other. Here, in this book, I merely had fun sharing their experiences. This may certainly be enough for another reader. Lots of interesting topics are covered. I adore Feynman. I want to read a whole book about Hypatia. I enjoy Brel's songs, but if you do not know French, if you do not know these songs, you will miss these delights. Brel's name is not even mentioned. Life in France is well depicted, but still it wasn't enough for me. Maybe I am just very, very picky!
I have read an egalley, in other words an ARC in digital format. Changes mlay occur before the book is published....more