Title: A Farewell to Arms
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Page Count/Review Word Count: 293
A Farewell to Arms is one of Hemingway’s most celebrated novels, and it’s so celebrated for a reason – it really is a cracking novel, like a mixture of All Quiet on the Western Front and Romeo and Juliet. The story is set during the First World War on the Italian front, and it’s based on Hemingway’s own experiences. He was always the man of action, old Hemingway.
Several of the characters are also based on real people, but you don’t need to worry about that. Hemingway’s characterisation makes them infinitely more interesting than the people that they were based on, and so I recommend taking them at face value and then reading more about them online afterwards, if you so desire.
Put simply, it follows the exploits of an ambulance driver called Frederic Henry, and his relationship with a woman called Catherine Barkley – the war is really the backdrop to the story rather than the story itself, and it’s interesting to read a novel in which that’s the case. Too often, the novelists focus solely on the horrors of the war, and it’s great to get an insight in to what day-to-day life was like under those circumstances, and how love could still thrive despite the adversity.
If you’re new to Hemingway then this is a fantastic place to start and the logical choice – I’d say it’s second only to The Old Man and the Sea in terms of its notoriety, and it’s by far the better novel. So what are you waiting for? Go out and discover this classic – get in to Hemingway so we can talk about books.