Possibly 4.5 stars.
I originally read this in the late eighties after seeing the TV mini-series of it starring Jane Seymour. Figured the book had to be better than said mini series (which it was) but I'm afraid I didn't remember much else about it other than I had liked it.
What struck me this time around though, more than anything else was the writing style. Hemingway's stripped back prose is wonderfully evocative and a joy to read. I marveled how something so outwardly simple could be so rich. And after having finished the book it's the writing that's sticking with me most.
In some ways I feel like Hemingway should be a guilty pleasure as his reputation for macho themes, blood sports, antisemitism and misogyny make me feel like I shouldn't like him, but I do. I just can't help myself. I mean, I hate bull fighting. I absolutely loathe and detest it. No two ways about it. But despite this, Hemingway brought those scenes alive for me and I felt like I was part of the crowd. Did I enjoy it? Yes and no, for I felt like I was right there on the spot and curiosity got the better of me, although I cowered a bit and shut one eye while I was reading.
I just wish he wrote more books about stuff I'm interested in. War and blood sports aren't right up there on my reading agenda but for Hemingway, I might have to try. In the meantime, while I work up to another of his testosterone driven novels, I might read his memoir about his days in Paris, A Movable Feast, so I can experience this novel again but in a slightly different form and context.
Another excellent buddy read with my good friend Kim :-).