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Customer reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
A Farewell To Arms
Format: Mass Market Paperback|Change
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on 4 August 2014
It was an ideal gift
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on 9 January 2015
Maybe a classic but not for me
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on 23 July 2014
Amazing story...read it and weep
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on 25 April 2015
My personal favourite author and my favourite book.
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on 21 September 2016
I love A Farewall To Arms, but am extremely disappointed with this particular edition. I've found a number of words missing and typos in the first 30 pages, so have had to stop reading and buy a different version from elsewhere.
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on 14 October 2014
Book in Very Well conditions
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VINE VOICEon 25 September 2017
I picked this off the shelf to re-read prior to visiting northern Italy (which is the setting for the story) last week. It's the tale of Frederick Henry, an American who's serving in the Ambulance corps of the Italian army during World War I, and his relationship with Catherine Barkley, an English nurse. Based on Hemingway's own real-life experiences (of both the war and the relationship), the book is written in his characteristically terse, tough style, best illustrated by the opening sentences [p7]:

"In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels."

This apparent simplicity of vocabulary (try counting the number of times the words "and" and "but" appear) was honed by his early work as a newspaper reporter, but turned into a unique style which inspired later writers of action stories. This simplicity extends to the dialogue, which seems to be more of its time [p194]:

"I wish we did not always have to live like criminals," I said.
"Darling, don't be that way. You haven't lived like a criminal very long. And we'll never live like criminals. We're going to have a fine time."

This may appear somewhat jarring to the modern eye (the book was written in 1929), but telling the story of their relationship in this unadorned fashion (coupled with the unsparing description of the horrors of war) turns out to be very effective: I enjoyed re-reading this book, and would recommend it to others.
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on 24 October 2015
My first Hemingway, and probably my last. I didn't not enjoy it, but I certainly didn't really like it. My thinking is that I should read at least one book of this famous twentieth century author, possibly more famous for the life he led than the books he wrote, even though he did win the Nobel Peace Prize for literature in 1954. And this was a random pick off the library shelf rather than one I specifically chose.

A good story, based on Hemingway's own ambulance driving experiences during WWI in Italy. The lead character is an American, Fredric Henry, serving as a lieutenant in the medical corps of the Italian army. Amongst all the horror of war he meets an English nurse, Catherine, with whom he falls madly in love. Their love affair amidst the chaos going on around them is the backbone to the story.

The problem is that it is just not terribly well told or very well written. The plot meanders quite a bit, the dialogues between all the characters are dreadful, often amounting to no more than two or three word exchanges - for a couple in love they can't really seem to find anything to talk about, but having said that, probably not a lot of talking was going on! With his fellow soldiers, all Italian, the conversations are just as boring, naturally there is a lot drinking and ribbing and sitting around being bored going on, which is probably what happened anyway. The best writing is the descriptions of what is going on around them all - the fear, the tension, the horror, the dirt, the day to day life. And quite a bit on the futility of war, the pointlessness of it all, and of course the inevitable deaths.

This was probably very much a book of its time - published in 1929 the war had ended only ten years earlier, and it was very well received when first published. So, I can now say I have read a Hemingway, yay, moving on.
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on 12 October 2015
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.
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on 12 October 2016
A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway.

Continuing my re-reading of Hemingway I was impressed once again by the author's mastery of the written word. Everything is precise, exact and true. This was the novel, following the first two short story collections and The Sun Also Rises, that made him a literary giant at the close of the 1920's.

This a novel about war. Real war. Hemingway worked with the Red Cross on the Italian front line during the 1914-1918 war. He experienced war first hand and was wounded in the line of duty. His experience is clearly felt in his narrative. Hemingway depicts war is boring most of the time. You stand around in the rain and cold. The food is bad and the clothes and equipment let you down. When there is action it is not heroic, it is frightening. The main character, Frederick Henry (a fiction version of Hemingway himself), is an officer in the Red Cross and is badly injured in an attack during the first half of the novel. We see him recover in an army hospital, fall in love with a British nurse and convalesce in Milan before having to return to the war front again. The final chapters see Frederick become disillusioned by the hopelessness of war and he desserts. The description of his journey to reach Milan, as part of the Italian retreat, is stark and brutal.

This is one of the best novels about 'the war to end all wars' written by an American. Read it alongside All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque to get the German perspective.
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