Friday, November 11, 2011

"Every time you hear a bell ring, it means some angel's just got his wings." Francis Goodrich

It is 1937 at the peak of the Spanish Civil War with the guerrillas fighting against the Facist government in Spain. Robert Jordan, an American, possessing knowledge of weapons and explosives, meets a group of Spanish guerrilla fighters in the mountains.

Jordan is a dynamiter who has been sent to the area to blow up a bridge. Among the guerrillas is a young woman, Maria, who becomes attracted to him.

While the men who make up much of the freedom fighters speak of war, a man named Pablo appears to be in charge. However, it is his wife, Pilar who is the real force behind the group. Pilar is Spanish for pillar, is a symbol of the rock steadfastness of the group. During the early action in the story, it is seen that Pablo's resolve for fighting has changed and he often resorts to drinking.

Amidst the talk of killing and the Republican offensive against the Fascists, we follow the activities of Robert and Marie. This mixture of love and war is another significant juxtaposition of the author. With the tender moments of these two characters, it is as though this might be what the guerrillas are fighting for. The government's totalarianism attitude cannot tell them what to do and that gypsies like Rafael, foreigners like the American Robert Jordan, and women like Pilar and Marie can all work and live together as equals.

Hemingway has a master's gift for dialogue. We don't just read the words he pens. It is as if we have been transported to the Spanish mountainside and are listening to the scenes such as Pilar and Pablo discussing a matador that Pablo was proud of seeing and Pilar envisioning the matador as the matador gazes at the crowd in the rink before he kills the bull.

Hemingway was a reporter in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, his characters are honest in their actions and loyal to one another and Spain.

The story mixes historical fact and speculative fiction in a most entertaining manner that readers will enjoy and feel they have read something of literary significance.


Deb said...

Hi, Mike, I'm new to your blog. Came over from Bea's blog having seen your comment and noting you're an author. Great review of Hemingway. I have a book I've just partially read that I think you might enjoy reading called, "A Train in Winter" which is about the French Resistance in Nazi occupation of Paris. Its focus is on a group of women, but it actually reads like an historical account of communism at work in the resistance. It seems much of the motivation was fueled by what happened in Spain just a couple of years prior. I didn't want to review it for several reasons having to do with political and personal philosophies, but I thought you might like to have the book. If so, please email me and let me know.


The Reading Reviewer said...

Great blog as always Mike thanks for the insight1

mike draper said...

Hi Deb;
Thanks for thinking of me on this but I now have so many books that I've promised to review, I can't accept any more.

The name's Kara! said...

My grandpa was 9 years old during the Spanish Civil War and lived during that. He and his brothers came to the US as orphans. So this definitely sounds like a read I'd definitely want to pick up at the library.

Great review! I'm glad to have found your blog. I loev historical fiction.


Matt Lee said...

Great blog as always Mike thanks for the insight1

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