“I suppose it is possible to live as full a life in seventy hours as in seventy years; granted that your life has been full up to the time that the seventy hours start and that you have reached a certain age.”
Set just over the course of a few days, For Whom the Bell Tolls tells the story of Robert Jordan, an American fighting with the International Brigades in Spain. His assignment is to blow up a bridge at a certain time and he may use the help of a local antifascist guerilla unit. The unit is a quite interesting combination of people – an older woman married to a man who is not on board with blowing up the bridge, an illiterate spy, several able-bodied men and a young woman who carries the scars of war on her body and in her soul.
I actually thought I was going to read this book earlier this year, but had signed up for All Quiet on the Western Front instead at the library, which was a very good read. I still wanted to read this one since I had read and loved Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea a couple years ago. I have another Hemingway book on my to-read list and hope to read it soon – A Farewell to Arms.
It took a few chapters to get into this book since Hemingway’s writing style is heavier than today’s style of writing. Once I did get into the book, I was hooked wondering if Robert Jordan would take an interest in the young woman and if they would succeed in blowing up the bridge. The people, the communication and the weather all seem to work against the plan set in place. Hemingway also sets the story by explaining other events that have taken place in the war that brought the guerillas to where they are. Robert Jordan learns to not take life for granted before the story ends.
This is a beautiful story about life, love, war and loss. It is set in a time period that I have not encountered in a book before, which added interest for me. I would highly recommend this for any adult reader who can appreciate a story written in a deeper writing style. Hemingway knows how to tell a story that you won’t forget.