Month: October 2013

What I Read: A Farewell to Arms

So this was fabulous. Going to write it as if you know the ending, because really, this book was published in 1929 so at this point it’s no longer a spoiler…

Set in the First World War, it’s the story of an American ambulance driver in the Italian Army on the Italian front who falls in love with a Scottish nurse. There are descriptions of attacks, life behind the front lines, losing friends and the general unhappiness of war, which provide the setting for this love story.

Not knowing much about this book going in, other than it does not end well, I was surprised that the American was fighting with the Italians, and that the British nurse I’d heard so much about was actually Scottish. Some may argue Scottish/British, same deal — I am 1/4 Scottish and will argue differently.

So the American falls in love with this Scottish lady and I have to say I wasn’t interested in the story until the end when they escape together. That’s when I really got hooked, maybe because I knew of the tragedy that was about to ensue.

I have the edition of this with all of the alternate endings, where the baby lives, and it is so interesting to see how Hemingway worked through the various ways it could end. There are pages where photocopies of his writing with the actual scratchings out of lines and notes in the margins are visible, and it is fascinating to get a glimpse of his writing process.

Ultimately, the ending of A Farewell to Arms was beautiful in its simplicity. The final line:

“After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain.”

That just hits me in the gut. So sad, but then again, what’s he supposed to do? His almost-wife and baby just died, he doesn’t seem to have anyone left in the world, so he walks back to the hotel in the rain. Tragic.

I liked this a lot, but did not love it as much as The Sun Also Rises. I am glad I read it because now I feel more legitimate in my claims that I am a fan of Hemingway.

What I Read: A Monster Calls

 

 

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Oh my gosh this book, A Monster Calls, was incredible. Patrick Ness is the best young adult author I have ever read. He wrote this book based on an idea from Siobhan Dowd, who passed away before she could write it.

The book centres around Conor, a boy whose mother has terminal cancer. He starts having dreams involving a yew tree in his yard and a monster. Through his interactions with the monster, Conor has to come to terms with his situation and admit the truth.

This book was an emotional sucker-punch. It was so beautiful, and so sad. The illustrations by Jim Kay were just so well done, as you can see above, the pages were illustrated and the illustrations of the monster were spot on. The darkness Conor feels just came to life on the page.

Next on my list to read is More Than This by Patrick Ness. I loved the Chaos Walking trilogy by him, and cannot wait to read his latest. It’s sitting in our living room, I bought it for my fiance for his birthday, as he is also a HUGE fan of Ness. Read his books! They are amazing!

Series I Love: Jack Reacher

Back in 2005 I was browsing the stacks in the public library in my city, looking for something to read. This was before the days of Goodreads and book blogs when my reading was a little less planned out than it is currently. I still sometimes just wander around the stacks, looking for covers that appeal to me. I love spontaneous discovery.

On this day, I found a book that led to me reading 17 (!) more. Killing Floor by Lee Child. The main character is Jack Reacher, an old military policeman who is a loner on the road, is very large, approximately 6’5 I think, drinks a lot of coffee and never owns more than one outfit at a time. He buys new clothes and trashes the old ones, because he doesn’t like to carry stuff around. There’s a murder in the town he’s passing through in Georgia, and somehow he’s arrested for murder. Suspense, mystery and crime-solving ensue.

These books are no literary masterpieces, but I enjoy a larger than life character who is just too ridiculous to exist in the real world. Also, I enjoy predictability in my reading sometimes. I know what I’m getting when I pick up a Jack Reacher book. He’s on the road, he gets involved in some sort of crime, people are usually out to get him for some reason, he usually meets a lady friend, and talks a lot about how he doesn’t like to be tied down.

There’s currently 18 in the series, with a couple of shorter stories included in there, one of which is from Jack Reacher’s perspective as a child.

I introduced my fiance’s dad to this series and he loves it. Maybe your dad would too! Or maybe you would. I love it. But don’t get me started about how Tom Cruise ruined what could have been a great movie franchise. Tom Cruise is a full foot smaller than Jack Reacher is supposed to be, and nowhere near as badass. It still makes me angry to think about!!!