Book Club: The Sun Also Rises

I had a post for you with all the Oscar trends, but you'll have to wait 'till Friday for that.  Too many red carpets have my head in a tizzy, so and I thought we should take a break from all the award shows, and go for something a little more literary.

For those who follow the blog, you guys already know that I am fascinated by all things Paris, especially the 1920's. A book that really sheds light to the era is Ernest Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises"  which I just finished reading, and wanted to share with you.

Recognized as Hemingway's most important novel, the book follows a group of American expatriates on a magical trip from Paris to Pamplona, for the celebration of the Festival of San Fermin, where the main character Jake Barnes, a war veteran and bull fight aficionado is set to see his beloved corridas once again.

Like every good novel, there is of course a love story. Jake is in love with English socialite and it-girl about Paris Lady Bret Ashley,  who with her bobbed hair and sharp tongue is the epitome of the sexual freedom of the 20's.  Unfortunately for Jake, a war injury has rendered him impotent, and  his relationship with Bret is doomed; she is unwilling to give up sex to be with him. Jake is not the only man pining for Bret, his close friend Robert Cohn is besotted by her fabulous style, charm and wild-child spirit as well.

Jane Seymour as Bret Ashley.
Her elegance has been quite inspirational for me.

But Bret is engaged to Mike Campbell, a man from a wealthy Scottish family, who himself is bankrupt from too much partying.  And boy do they all party. Joined by Jake's best childhood friend Bill Gorton, they party all the way from France to Spain. 

The first part of the holiday is a fishing trip that Bill, Jake and Robert take to Bayone.  Robert is not with them long, as he foolishly leaves to follow Bret and Mike, who have stayed behind and were late in joining them.  I love this part of the book because Hemingway beautifully illustrates how intimate and familiar the camaraderie between two friends can be. Both Jake and Bill are at their happiest fishing for trout, sharing wine and joking affectionately with each other. 

The group eventually meets up and set out to live the weeklong fiesta which will culminate with the bullfighting, and with Bret falling in love with a 19 year old bullfighter, Romero. But not before Mike and Cohn drunkenly have it out over Bret, and Robert Cohn finally leaving the group who have made it quite clear that he is not welcomed.
Jake Barnes, Lady Ashley, and
Mike Campbell.
This novel is fascinating (there have been numerous stage and movie adaptations) because it is based on real people and real events.  When the fiesta is being described in Pamplona, you cannot help but imagine yourself there, drinking the cheap wine and loosing your head.   The imagery is breathtaking and Hemingway's narrative is bewitchingly addicting. 

By the end of the book (I won't reveal the ending), your own heart is so wretched that you can only wish you had never turned the page.  And that my friends is what I call a good book. 

Love Always
Dani K

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