I chose to read Ernest Hemingway’s first novel because I picked up a copy of The Paris Wife which is about his first marriage to Hadley Richardson and their years in Paris with all the famous expat writers and artists. Those were also the years during which Hemingway wrote his first novel, The Sun Also Rises, based on his adventures in Europe. As I’d never read any of Hemingway’s work, I thought it a good idea to begin with this novel.
“That seemed to handle it. That was it. Send a girl off with one man. Introduce her to another to go off with him. Now go and bring her back. And sign the wire with love. That was it all right.”
This novel is about a group of expats in Paris who travel to Pamplona, Spain for the fiesta and the bull fights. It takes place after World War I, and they live like lushes and there is a sense of detachment among them. They definitely seem to represent “The Lost Generation”.
For example, the protagonist, Jake, is in love with Lady Brett Ashley and has been for some time. Yet he
acts as her friend as she becomes engaged to another man and has flings with a couple of others during their holiday. Brett is quite a fascinating character because she’s very liberal; she’s hardly monogamous. She’s free-spirited and a bit like a child who indulges every whim and fancy.
I wasn’t wildly in love with this novel, but it’s a classic and it was entertaining so I definitely recommend it. The descriptions of the bull-fighters during the fights are exquisite. And it did give me a better appreciation for Hemingway’s early struggles in Paris now that I’m reading The Paris Wife. I’m about halfway through that book, so expect a review soon!