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Islands in the Stream

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  12,717 ratings  ·  615 reviews
First published in 1970, nine years after Ernest Hemingway's death, Islands in the Stream is the story of an artist and adventurer — a man much like Hemingway himself. Rich with the uncanny sense of life and action characteristic of his writing — from his earliest stories (In Our Time) to his last novella (The Old Man and the Sea) — this compelling novel contains both the ...more
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published July 22nd 2003 by Scribner (first published 1970)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  12,717 ratings  ·  615 reviews

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Jan 24, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, audiobook, novel
The book is good. It's good but it's sad. It's a good, sad book about a good, sad man, and that's what Hemingway intended. He knew that writing a good book is a fine thing, because people will enjoy reading it.

I tell myself that he's right: reading a good book is a good thing. You can be glad that the book is good, and you can be glad that you are not a character in the book, because Hemingway books are sad books, and characters in Hemingway books do not have an easy time of it. But it's a good,
Aug 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Oh how I wish Hemingway had lived to revise and compile this book. Published posthumously and with only minor attention given to copy editing by Papa's publisher and last wife, the book limns its main character in three parts: as an artist living in the Gulf before WWII, as a grief-stricken u-boat hunter in Cuba following the loss of his sons, and in a final hunt for German fugitives. The unifying theme is in line with the Hemingway code: man is powerless before the abyss, but can behave with ...more
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up on a whim, and I'm so glad I did! What a strange, melancholy, compelling story! It was published posthumously and not edited by Hemingway, which makes me wonder what it might have been like if he'd finished it himself, but as it is, I liked it a lot. It might be one of my favorites this summer, which is odd, because when one thinks of summer reads, one usually thinks of light fiction or fun nonfiction, neither of which this book could be called by any stretch. Yet in ...more
Luís C.
The novel describes the trajectory of Thomas Hudson, a divorced and good-natured artist who leads the life with a certain disdain, with a poetry thing on its banks. Reclining on the Gulf of Mexico island, Bimini, in the early 1940s, estranged from his 3 children and 2 women, with the memories of his youth in Paris. Living alone, in the company of a few friends - the negro Joseph and an alcoholic, consuming a lot of alcohol. His loneliness is broken, however, when he receives the visit during the ...more
Nov 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
The Most Interesting Man in the World: The Novel(s). I removed Islands in the Stream from my “currently reading” shelf because I wasn’t sure I would ever finish it. The first part, “Bimini,” is the best part of the novel, and could probably have stood alone as a short novel. It tells the story of Thomas Hudson, a somewhat famous painter, and the visit of his three sons. It’s fishing and drinking and eating and story telling, with a tragic ending . Pure Hemingway, with some wonderful passages to ...more
Jun 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Look at me, reading Hemingway! :D
It's off to a great start. I'm really enjoying this book so far.

Not sure if I got lucky or if Hemingway truly is a good writer. I no longer, though, have an aversion to Hemingway's works and will gladly read more in the future.

This story of Thomas Hudson had me glued to the pages. Hemingway has a way of blending his personal life with his fiction. He brings elements of his life into this story and builds around them. It's not all autobiographical but enough so
Kevin Shepherd
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Being against evil doesn't make you good ...when you start taking pleasure in it you are awfully close to the thing you're fighting"

A manly story about a very manly man, doing the things manly men do: hunting, fishing, fist fighting, a few quick trips to the local brothel, then off to capture nazi u-boat survivors. This novel just oozes with testosterone, yet Hemingway still conveys a sense of warmth and vulnerability. His subject is a loving father, a kind-hearted exhusband, and is fanatically
classic reverie
It has been about 40 years since I read Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea" in High School which I plan on re reading that next. I have several of his novels on my "to read" shelf but decided on reading "Islands in the Stream" after a Goodreads' friend recommend this book to me, it being a favorite. I had no idea what this novel was about except what the name implies and it was published in 1970 about ten years after his death. I enjoy going into a book blind because I rather not have ...more
I have often thought that there should be a reluctance on the part of the estate of a deceased writer to publish any of an author's works posthumously. Seriously, if the book was finished and the writer hadn't bothered to take it to the publisher, what would you assume his motives to be? An aversion to money, perhaps? This book is one of several that was published after Hemingway's suicide, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if he hadn't published it simply because he felt that it wasn't good ...more
Someone Youmayknow
Jul 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Falling in love at an advanced age you would think would be a little bit different. But I am like a school girl. I'm not writing Me and Ernie 4 Eva on my notebooks but I might as well be the way I am mooning around about Papa Hemingway these days. Without a doubt I'm head over heels and “Islands in the Stream” only confirms it.
Even though this book was never highly praised by his critics and is one of his later works it is, to me, one of the finest literary works to pass before these tired eyes.
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually enjoyed this Hemingway story. Maybe it was because it was edited by someone either than the author. I have found that I like the posthumous Hemingway writings better than what he put out when he was alive.

I felt like I was in the Caribbean while reading this story. And in doing so I was able to relive my trip that I had to the Caribbean over twenty years ago.

One caveat though, if you like Calypos music, parts of this book will get the songs stuck in your head. At one point I was
Oct 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
Disclaimer: this was the first Hemingway book I've read. I wish I'd started off with something else, like one of his "masterpieces", because this one left me frustrated, exhausted, and disappointed, even a bit disgusted. I started out thinking I was really going to enjoy it, and liked the affectionate tones and his style of writing. By the end of the novel I felt like I was stuck in a room with a drunk man that was making me listen to a drawn out, glorified, story of his life and all the ...more
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Only giving 4 stars as its not my favourite Hemingway book.
But it's still classic Hemingway writing.
It's amazing how he writes such clear simple sentences
and still leaves such vivid images in your mind.
You would never need a dictionary reading Hemingway.

He just captures so easily some of the beauty of life
just casually(or so it seems) as he tells his story.

He is not everyone's cup of tea but for me one of my favourite authors.

Daniel Villines
Nov 28, 2010 rated it liked it
As a Hemingway fan, there is a lot to like and enjoy about this book. For instance, we’re lucky that it is here in the first place. Being the first of the posthumously published works, Hemingway had no intention of publishing it himself, but here it is. Islands in the Stream is filled with lines that could only come from Hemingway. Filled with his crisp style of writing that leaves so much to the imagination that the story transforms into truth in the minds of his readers.

The problem with
Cole Perry
Apr 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: american, modern
This may have been the most miserable slog through prose that I've ever endured. Highlights include the children's stilted dialogue in Bimini, long digressive stories told to a prostitute in Cuba, (Which she manages to point out are boring as all get out.) and then it finally gets interesting, though in need of serious edits about page 385. Please for the love of god, read any of EH's other books. There is a reason that this one wasn't published until after his death.
Read the last book, (At
"Grief doesn't split." (264)
Islands in the Stream is divided into three parts—Bimini, Cuba, and At Sea—which may as well have been separate stories or novellas, except that they're connected through the main character, Thomas Hudson.

The book is sad, sometimes very sad, though there is the occasional humor (usually dark, at times bitter). I found it disconcerting to read the passages on suicide, knowing that this was the last book that Hemingway wrote before he took his own life.

It's not one of
There’s a thirty pages long fishing section in this book where a boy struggles to get one big fish for six hours and at the end he keeps saying he loves the fish and later, 'at the worst parts, when I was the tiredest I couldn’t tell which was him and which was me.' I kind of feel like that about this book, only with less love, as it was so, so very exhausting. Partly because I couldn’t care less about fishing and ‘manly’ fights and prostitutes sent by millionaire friends and, oh, well, I do ...more
Mar 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
my favorite novel.

before i experienced a loss, i was drawn to stories of loss... this is the best of them.

the greatest love story ever written.
Feb 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
If the author of this was an unknown it would never have gotten out of the slush pile.
Feb 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
For anyone who would venture upon this novel as their first trip into Hemingway, I'd presume a rating of far less celestial body. The reality is, this posthumously published, three-part story is not Hemingway's best. In fact, the novel has some pretty uncharacteristic flaws. It is full of the very traditional Hemingway: startling one-liners, little plot with heavy emotion and warmth, intense scene recognition and spatial consideration, machismo oozing out the ears. You name it.

But, for the
Kang-Chun Cheng
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
his characters are such pitiable assholes
Carol Storm
Nov 08, 2013 rated it liked it
I've been a Hemingway fan all my life, and even though I read this novel as a teen, it didn't really work for me. All the good stuff reads like imitations of stuff he did when he was younger, before the booze and the multiple wives and the multiple concussions.

And some of the wishful thinking is almost comical! Thomas Hudson drinks a Heineken for breakfast and then says, "it would be easy to be a rummy, wouldn't it." And then INSTANTLY his loyal flunky (who is a real rummy, natch) chimes in
Richard Maldonado
Jan 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I haven't read Hemingway in many years and decided to use him for this winter's reads. This book is truly a great work. Efficient, direct and hard but stirring to the soul. He is best read by those who have lived a bit, for those readers who have not yet lived much, might find it a little hard to find a bit foreign.
Feb 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb Hemingway dialogue that made me laugh out loud on a number of occasions. The nautical imagery was brilliant and I could smell the salt on the pages. Part 3 was especially intense, having done a bit of VBSS myself.
Richard Heideman
Jul 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
By far my all time favorite book.
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Hemingway at his sad best. And sad Hemingway is the best.

Bimini (Part 1) is the strength of the book.
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've long been a fan of Old Man and the Sea - it was my all time favorite beach read a while back. So, when I learned that these stories constituted the foundation and origin of that story, I was eager to read it on vacation this year. Our vacation was interrupted, and reading wasn't an option, so I'm just now finishing it - far from the shore.

Islands in the Stream are three connected stories published together posthumously by Hemingway's wife and publisher. They had editing duties - giving 400
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
A return to form. Whereas I think acts two and three are perhaps merely competent it is act one, Bimini, that positively sparkles. It would have deserved life as a novel in its own right and it would have been one of his greatest.
Chris Messner
Dec 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ernest Hemingway first discovered Cuba in 1928. He spent a good portion of his life in Cuba. His fondness for the island is evident in his life and in some of his writings. Most of Hemingway's time in Cuba was spent in Havana. From 1932 to about 1939, Hemingway took up residence in Room 511 of Havana's Hotel Ambos Mundos. In 1939, Hemingway became a permanent resident of Cuba with his purchase of the Finca La Vigía, a villa in the suburbs of Havana. Finca La Vigía was built in 1886 and was ...more
Mitch Crosby
Nov 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Why Papa is the master:

“The end of a man’s own world does not come as it does in one of the great paintings Mr. Bobby had outlined. It comes with one of the island boys bringing a radio message up the road from the local post office and saying, “Please sign on the detachable part of the envelope. We’re sorry, Mr. Tom.”

He gave the boy a shilling. But the boy looked at it and put it down on the table.

“I don’t care for a tip, Mr. Tom,” the boy said and went out.

He read it. Then he put it in his
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Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economical and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He published seven novels, six short story ...more
“Being against evil doesn't make you good. Tonight I was against it and then I was evil myself. I could feel it coming just like a tide... I just want to destroy them. But when you start taking pleasure in it you are awfully close to the thing you're fighting.” 85 likes
“You roll back to me.” 51 likes
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