Customer Reviews


156 Reviews
5 star:
 (75)
4 star:
 (30)
3 star:
 (23)
2 star:
 (12)
1 star:
 (16)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly fresh novel from 1929 - this edition with several unique features
Never having read A Farewell to Arms before, I was interested to see this new edition, with its cover replicating the first edition published in 1929. I wondered how the book would stand up to the passage of time and whether it would, like so many other books of that era, just seem rather dated. However, I was glad to find myself enjoying reading it and mildly pleased to...
Published on 22 Oct. 2012 by Thomas Cunliffe

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Did not enjoy
I was very disappointed by Farewell to Arms - how did he win Nobel prize for literature? I know it's a sparse style but the vocabulary was so limited that it would suit someone who had difficulty reading. If the only way to describe anything is to say it was "fine" - meals, drink, life - then the reader does not actually learn anything from the adjective. I...
Published 8 months ago by S. M. M. Donaghy


‹ Previous | 1 216 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly fresh novel from 1929 - this edition with several unique features, 22 Oct. 2012
By 
Thomas Cunliffe "Committed to reading" (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Never having read A Farewell to Arms before, I was interested to see this new edition, with its cover replicating the first edition published in 1929. I wondered how the book would stand up to the passage of time and whether it would, like so many other books of that era, just seem rather dated. However, I was glad to find myself enjoying reading it and mildly pleased to have read another landmark book from the last century.

As I read Farewell to Arms I was struck by how fresh it still seemed. As a first person account, the narrator Henry shares his story with the reader as it happens. The writing is sparse, without sentiment or emotion and I could easily imagine that I was in the presence of a battle-hardened ambulance driver who saw terrible things every day but didn't think it worth talking about them.

We read discussions between the men about visits to bars and brothels, their complaints about the food and their discussions of the rumours about the battles on the Front. Henry meets an attractive Scottish nurse called Catherine Barkley. He calls on her at the nurses' home, managing to sit with her in the garden and get to know her. He pursues her over the next few days, as his duties allow, and they form a relationship which becomes the backdrop to the other events in the book.

Henry has periods of active service, and, like the author, is badly wounded in the legs. He is sent to hospital in Milan where he slowly recovers, wondering what happened to Catherine. She eventually comes to the hospital and their relationship continues.

By this time they are deeply in love, and the only elements of the book which seemed to have dated slightly are the rather over-romantic conversations between the two lovers, which sounded a little like the dialogue from a 1930s film script.

The book has a sad ending which seemed to me to be in keeping with the rest of the novel, which has a slight air of impending doom about it throughout. We read that Hemingway struggled with the ending of the book so much that he wrote 39 different endings and this edition publishes them together for the first time. I have to say, I didn't spend much time with these as there seemed little point in reading them, but no doubt they will be of interest to Hemingway students.

All through the book it seemed difficult to understand what an American was doing in Italy in that chaotic period but only a few years later, many more people from Britain and America were to go take up arms in the Spanish Civil War, resulting in many more books such as George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia (Penguin Modern Classics).

As well as the alternative endings, this edition contains photo-facsimiles of Hemingway's manuscript with many crossings-out and corrections. As you can see from the illustrations in this article, the cover is a lovely reproduction of the first edition and will sit well on any bookshelf - this is definitely not a book to be bought in ebook format as you would lose too much of the production itself.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hemingway at his best!, 9 Jun. 2002
By 
Andrew J. Keir "Andrew J Keir" (Abu Dhabi/Largs) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This novel touches on many issues; war, romantic love(without resorting to nauseating sentiment), culture and mortality. Each one is subtley explored with the incisive touch of Hemingway's pen.
Wherever Henry is, whether he is in an Italian ambulance at the front line, canoodling in a hospital bed, or standing in the rain in a deserted street, the reader always feels that they are right there with him, feeling what he feels, living what he lives.
This is quite simply one of the best books that I have ever read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Anti-War Novel That Also Uncovers Life's Many Meanings, 14 May 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This book clearly deserves more than five stars.
A Farewell to Arms is the semi-autobiographical tale of an American lieutenant in the Italian army near the end of World War I. Though the book's action, you will see the gradual distintegration of the hero's commitment to the conflict and his faltering attempts to create a new personna. While this is clearly one of the greatest anti-war books of all time, it transcends that genre to look more directly at the nature of life's challenges and how we meet them. As such, A Farewell to Arms ranks as one of the greatest of all American philosphical novels as well. For Hemingway aficionados, you will be fascinated to see his ornate writing style before he developed his eventual, much-admired spare form. This is stream of consciousness Hemingway at its best.
Lieutenant Henry is a man caught in the drift of events, without knowing what he stands for. He does his duty, but often out of habit rather than principle. When the full force of man and nature turn on him, he reverts to his instincts for self-survival. He wants little to do with the world, except in taking those delights that most please him. In the course of realizing and trying to overcome his emotional weaknesses, he simply isolates himself in new ways. Even love can only touch him when it is defined solely in his own terms.
Hemingway sees personal progress as only being possible through extreme pain. "The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places." That's the good news. The bad news is that "those that will not break it kills." The world kills "the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially."
This theme is carried out by the challenges of being a lieutenant in the ambulance corps, then being wounded in a mortar attack, going through surgery and recovery, dealing with a murderous retreat, and ultimately falling in love and dealing with loss. Lieutenant Henry is increasingly overwhelmed, and finds himself willing to attempt less and less. Although the story does not carry him forward through the rest of his life, you imagine that he remains an emotional cripple from these experiences for the rest of his life . . . having little faith or interest in his fellow humans.
All of Hemingway's characters are emotionally crippled in one way or the other. Even if a shell does not hit them, they will never be the same from their war experiences. Whether they are driven by fear, love, or duty, the result is the same -- a disillusioned numbness that limits their ability to be alive. When pressed by the exigencies of the moment, each retreats to lick his or her wounds . . . cut off effectively from support. Whatever fine or infamous human emotion drives them, also condemns them.
One of the particularly haunting aspects of the book is the portrayal of war as unending and inescapable. A modern reader naturally knows when World War I ended. At the time, people wondered if it would go on for a hundred years. That despair is well captured here. Another unforgettable feature is raising the question of who the enemy really is. Lieutenant Henry discovers that those be befriends, his allies, and nature itself can be even more dangerous to him than the military enemy ever has been. You get a chilling sense of the dark side of civilization that few novels even attempt to portray.
Hemingway left Illinois at 17 to join the Kansas City Star as a reporter. He volunteered with the Red Cross in World War I at 18, first serving on the French front and later with the Italians. He was severely wounded in Italy, and was awarded the Italian Croce di Guerra. The first third of the book probably mirrors his own experiences very closely, and you will find a youthful vividness in those pages that will effectively put you amongst the battles and the boring sameness of waiting in between.
Many have considered what man's inhumanity to man really means. World War I was one of the greatest examples of this terrible tendency. Reading this book provides a good opportunity to reconsider your own views about the meaning of such times in human history, and what the right things are to do. Imagine that you are any of the characters in this book. What could and should you have done differently? What would have been the probable consequences? What would have been the meaning of your decisions and actions? What lessons can you apply from this today?
Basically, this book argues that moral progress only occurs through suffering. How else have you learned? How else could you learn? What does that mean about Hemingway's thesis?
Look for the best . . . as well as seeing the best in the worst.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fond Farewell, 30 May 2007
By 
The first thing that hits you about this book is the way it's written. The language is bare and sparce, yet somehow successfully evokes the Italian landscape and places a clear picture inside your head. The book is more than the sum of its parts and seems to effect you almost sublimily. Without realising it i found i was almost halfway through the book and had barely put it down.

The book is set during the first world war in Italy and really conveys the pointlessness and harshness of this war and war in general. Of course i have always assumed war to be an awfull experience, but this book really hammers that home like a nail through the head. What it really conveys is how unorganised and shambolic the war was and how no body really knew what they were doing. The soldiers dont seem to have any paticular special training or skills, and seem to have about as much idea as i would in what to do for the best. The book shows that war is just a crazy backward concept that you can never be prepared for.

As well as the war this book also conveys what it is to be young and in love and having a good time amongst friends. Despite the setting, the war was still gangs of young men together and at times you could almost imagine they were just friends on holiday. Hemmingway shows the soldiers drinking and laughing, finding girs, falling in love, and trying to make sure they dont get killed in the process. It created strong unshakable friendships between people. The war was terrible but the things that happened to the soldiers would certainly give you one hell of an adrenalin rush, and are experiences that we'l probably never get close to.

You dont have to be interested in war to read this book, God knows im not. This is a book about becoming an adult and finding out who you really are in life. You could substitute the war for any turbulant event in life that changes how you think and how you see the world.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A shining example of Hemingway's work, 1 Jun. 2006
By 
Spider Monkey (UK) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
I like Hemingway because his stories are realistic. Life doesn't have many happy endings, but it has moments of great passion, romance and happiness along the way. This book is kind of like that. His short sentences and terse writing style cut right to the core of your emotions and help you feel all this book has to offer. A brilliant place to start your appreciation of one of histories greatest writers.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Did not enjoy, 20 Aug. 2014
By 
S. M. M. Donaghy "Stephen Donaghy" (Witnesham, nr Ipswich, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I was very disappointed by Farewell to Arms - how did he win Nobel prize for literature? I know it's a sparse style but the vocabulary was so limited that it would suit someone who had difficulty reading. If the only way to describe anything is to say it was "fine" - meals, drink, life - then the reader does not actually learn anything from the adjective. I found the staccato style unengaging and offputting. The narrator's partner, Catherine, was such a cipher that it was hard to care about what happened to her. She might as well have been a doll for all the character that she displayed. The dialogue was realistic but that was to its detriment - it had as much artistic merit as a conversation overheard on a bus.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Hemingway, 24 Nov. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was interested to read the one-star reviews. I figured they missed the point. Against the backdrop of literature at the time this book was read, the writing was fresh and new, modern and unusual.
The theme (not the premise) was similar to 'Have and Have Not' in that if you expect a happy ending then you will be just disappointed.
And good for Hemingway! Life isn't a series of happy endings, a place where they meet up at the end of the story and live forever-after happily. Life is gritty and what you get out of it is what you put into it. I most value Hemingway's writing because he doesn't pull his punches, he lets you have the realism on the chin (like any good boxer). The short, clippy prose is like gold.
OK, I admit it, the dialogue at times is unrealistic and the women he brings into his stories are a bit stereotyped and bland, but you have to see it all in the context of the time in which he wrote. It was a time when Ginger Rodgers and Fred Astair were working and saying all thier bland, romantic things on the silver screen. It was a time when people expected less of women than we do now.
What Hemingway has, is an eye for detail and a magical talent for dialogue between people whether they are of different nationalities or race.
I can understand why he got the Nobel prize too. He was a master of portraying emotion without ever having to use -ly adverbs or stick the MC's feelings in your face. You feel through the writing without it being obvious.
I wish I could do that in my humble scribblings!
'The Cyclist' by Fred Nath.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Prose, 20 Oct. 2011
By 
D. Elliott (Ulverston, Cumbria) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The basis of the novel `A Farewell to Arms' is author Ernest Hemingway's own experience as an ambulance driver on the Italian front during Wold War I when he was badly wounded and fell in love with a nurse. This semi-autobiography approach makes for reality as `A Farewell to Arms' becomes both a love story and a bleak commentary on the horror and futility of war. It will appeal to readers like myself who have visited the settings of the story in the disputed areas of Gorizia, northern Italy and the Swiss border country, and who are saddened by the folly of fighting in such wonderful mountain environments.

The story is recounted in the first person by main protagonist American Frederic Henry, a tenente or lieutenant in the Italian medical corps, and it is divided into 5 books that allow a build up to his character. The tenente communicates easily and freely with others and as a hard drinker is full of both `joie de vivre' and apprehension to his circumstances. `A Farewell to Arms' tells a gripping story as the tenente endures much pain and misery and hardship in addition to appraising his own moral attitudes and passions. The books cover initial meeting with nurse Catherine Barkley and his being wounded, then growth of their relationship, followed by return to the front, defeat and retreat, escape from his own allies, and a finale in neutral Switzerland.

Ernest Hemingway's writing style may now be regarded as somewhat old-fashioned, yet at the time of first publication in 1929 it was a break from earlier romantic prose. Though writing is gritty and forceful it is strange to have expletives replaced with dashes and yet to have non-PC words employed. Hemingway relies heavily on dialogue and uses basic simple language that adds credibility to characters and situations. His terse and sparse phrasing is especially powerful in revealing the chaos of war with mental as well as physical conflicts. Often there are what appear to be understatements, but never does the novel slacken pace or lose direction. `A Farewell to Arms' is a classic of its style which has deservedly withstood the test of time - it is powerful prose.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful and depressing, 26 Nov. 2009
I have read and enjoyed everything written by Hemingway at least once, and even though his short stories are always good, I prefer his novels. I think a reason for this is simply because they are longer than the short stories, and I never want them to end. His writing is always depressing somehow, and this novel is no exception, but they are depressing in a way that also brings happiness, as is the case with some beautiful music. His writing is so clean and great, yet it is truly impossible to express just what it is exactly he did to inspire such feelings in me when I read his work. This book is set in WWI, where the main character, an American, is enrolled in the Italian army, fighting against Austria and Germany. He works in an ambulance unit, and he describes the setting and characters in clear but simple detail. He does not often go into detail about the feelings of the characters, but lets you judge for yourself based on the way they express themselves. There is no clear plot involved, and the action of the book is always unpredictable. I would not say it is an anti-war book, even though no one is happy with the war. It is only a very realistic story set in a difficult time and place. Even though there are bright moments in this book, just like all of his other books, you know that it is only a matter of time until something bad happens. But even with this knowledge one can enjoy every word and line, because they are so well-written and beautiful. In my opinion, Hemingway is the greatest American writer, and I would recommend anyone who hasn't read his books to do so at the earliest possible convenience.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Strangely Clinical, But Ultimately Powerful, 7 Aug. 2013
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This 1929 novel by Ernest Hemingway recounts the tale, based on Hemingway's own experience during WW1, of an expatriate American, Lieutenant ('tenente' in Italian) Frederic Henry, who is working as part of the Italian army ambulance corps in northern Italy during the tail end of the 'Great' War. One of the most interesting aspects of Hemingway's novel is that it focuses (almost exclusively) on the 'behind the scenes' wartime activities, rather than dealing with fighting at the front. Of course, the challenge then is to invent a narrative, and writing style in delivery, which can still engage the reader through what might be more mundane affairs.

For me, Hemingway's level of success in achieving this aim is variable. In the early passages of the novel, whilst there are some interesting themes around nationalism, the camaraderie of fighting men and women's place in society of the time, I found the narrative generally weak. It was not until the tenente is wounded and hospitalised, together with the subsequent development of his relationship with British nurse, Catherine Barkley, that I began to be really engaged. This lack of engagement is further exacerbated (I feel) by Hemingway's notoriously simple (and here, terse) prose style - which itself works best (not surprisingly) with a 'good story to tell'. However, thereafter during the novel, particularly during the sections where Henry is retreating through Italian lines and then making his way by boat to Switzerland (with his now pregnant partner), I found myself absorbed by developments and, of course, it would be nigh on impossible not to be moved by the novel's powerful denouement.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 216 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

A Farewell to Arms
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (Audio CD - 18 Aug. 2011)
£25.00
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews