I went into the book knowing it was about World War I but clueless as to the actual story. In the end, I was surprised about how it was largely about the periphery of World War I and less the actual fighting. Early on, there's a chapter or two at the line of battle and another section focuses on battle-related movement but, even then, Hemingway cares more about the personal story and the tangential effects of the war rather than the fighting as a whole.


The first chapter starts with repetition, a lot of it. Try counting how many times a given word is repeated on page one. That said, it's a direct, simple story, and the repetition reads as a chant at times (as on page one). Do not enter into it thinking it's going to be a dynamic, twisty story - it takes left turns, but you will likely never be compelled into the next chapter. Contrary to that, the narrative swept me along at a clip because it was lyrical and endearing.

Despite the simpleness I am prescribing, I was also motivated to look up analysis of the story afterward, as the story does have some narrative trickiness - literally, as the narrator himself is complex in his recounting of the story, allowing for much variation of interpretation and analysis of the characters.