This volume covers only three years of Hemingway’s life, 1926-1929, but it is richly detailed and thoroughly satisfying, whether one reads it for what is has to tell of Hemingway or as an evocation of the life of the younger generation of the Twenties. The period is an important one for Hemingway, for it sees the publication of two major works (THE SUN ALSO RISES and THE TORRENTS OF SPRING), the completion of the manuscript of A FAREWELL TO ARMS, and the publication of several major short stories. It also sees him divorce one wife, marry another, return to America for thirteen months, and suffer the loss of his father by suicide. At the end he finds himself uncomfortable in a middle-class America and returns to Europe.
Reynolds’ work, which has many of the qualities of a good novel, gives the best picture yet to Hemingway the individual, both artists and individual. It has an intriguing cast of characters, themes such as love and passion, the artist struggling to be true to his craft, the conflict between father and son. In addition, the work has a strong sense of place — and Hemingway lived, worked, and visited in an amazing number of exotic places in just three years. The book has pace and momentum, building to climaxes such as Hemingway’s divorce and remarriage, his success with THE SUN ALSO RISES, and the triple climax of the completion of A FAREWELL TO ARMS, the birth of a son by his new wife, and the death of his father.
The great achievement of Reynolds is that he has entered into the emotional and imaginative life of this creative artist in a fascinating and yet thoroughly documented way. This is probably the best, and certainly the most detailed, work on Hemingway the man.
Sources for Further Study
Kirkus Reviews. LX, October 15, 1992, p. 1300.
Library Journal. CXVII, October 1, 1992, p. 88.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXIX, November 9, 1992, p. 70.