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Review: Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises – by Ernest Hemingway

Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway My rating: 4 of 5 stars My love affair with Hemingway continues and Fiesta is the latest work of his that I have thrown myself into and conveniently it is all about a love affair. The tension of the love between Jake and the wild aristocratic Brett builds up in the city of Paris. We see a high life throughout this book. The chief protagonists certainly understand how best to enjoy their time. Washing machines and home cooked dinners are not on the agenda. We flit from bar to bar, restaurant to restaurant and the mouthwatering selection of food and drink is so succulently described that by the time Jake hit San Sebastian towards the end of the book I could actually savor the taste of his drinks. Hemingway is rich on description and all of his writing very cleverly conjures up mental images describing in detail the environment his characters inhabit. Fiesta is no different and if anything the landscape described in this book is perhaps richer. We can see that the author knows his terrain well. He is passionate about France and Spain and nowhere does this passion manifest itself more than at the Festival of San Fermin at Pamplona. From ‘Death In The Afternoon’ I know that Hemingway deeply admires bullfighting. The sejour at San Fermin allows this knowledge and love of La Corrida to manifest itself in fiction. Jake, an American, is rare as a foreigner, in that he is an initiate of this cultural sport. The relationship with Montoya, in whose hotel they reside, is poignant in the way Jake and Montoya interact as they discuss the intricacies of the weeks long activities centered upon the bulls. The wild partying of the week long fiesta culminates in an anarchic breakup of the group of friends. the boxer loses his temper, there is an excess of alcohol and Brett, who is the center of attention for all the men, decides to run off with the festival’s leading young bullfighter. They split away and head off in their own directions and it is Jake who comes to the rescue of Brett as she winds up in Madrid. It is obvious throughout that they deeply care for each other but their very lifestyle doesn’t allow them to be together. As the book ends with them travelling down a Madrid street…

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Review: A Farewell to Arms

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway My rating: 5 of 5 stars I’d encountered Hemingway through his ‘Death in the Afternoon’ foray into bullfighting. I have always wanted to tackle some of his pure fiction and thought I’d delve into this shortish novel, with catchy title. I expected a book on war and the protagonist’s journey on the Italian front of World War 1 did not disappoint. The book is a romantic novel though and the blossoming love between soldier and nurse in the heat of conflict is a contrasting dichotomy that Hemingway weaves wonderfully in a myriad of descriptive prose. As the story progresses you find attachment to the characters and Hemingway will ever so suddenly sweep the carpet from underneath you and cast the direction into another unforeseen direction. The book builds and builds and we see the conflict dying down and as the birth of their firstborn approaches one can only expect a nice happy conclusion. War over and happiness ever after. But alas, the tragedy of the finale leaves one dumbstruck and aghast. It really does leave you hanging. The tragedy of war is matched with the tragedy of life and our main character’s heartbreak hits you as a reader with devastating effect. A fantastic read and I cannot wait until I grasp hold of the next Hemingway adventure. View all my reviews

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