|So young and full of hope.|
This is the story of Frederic Henry, an American ambulance driver in the Italian army during World War I. This is also, in many ways, the story of Hemingway himself, who was, coincidentally, an American ambulance driver in the Italian army during World War I. But that's not all. According to the back of my 1957 copy, it's "one of the most moving love stories ever written." Really, blurb writer? That's the description you're going with?
I was skeptical of that summary before I read the book (this isn't my first Hemingway rodeo), and the more I read, the more irate I became at said blurb writer. Is this deserving of the label "classic"? Of course. Is it poignant? Absolutely! Is it the greatest love story ever told? Dear God, I hope not.
Fred's love interest, British nurse Catherine Barkley, is said to be based on Agnes von Kurowski, the real-life nurse who cared for Hemingway in Milan after his legs were nearly blown off by a mortar. I'm not sure how closely the fictional relationship between Fred and Catherine parallels that of Ernest and Agnes, but the two stories certainly don't end the same. In real life, Agnes broke Ernest's heart, which was allegedly the catalyst for his future pattern of leaving one wife after another; in book world . . . well, let's just say that Ernest rewrote history a bit.
|She's a heart breaker, dream maker, love taker.|