April 2007
« Mar   May »

My Material Is Copyrighted

Site Meter

Sites Where I Review Books

LibraryThing Early Reviewers




Winner Best Literary Fiction Blog - 2008
Shortlisted for Best Literary Fiction Blog - 2009, 2010
Longlisted for Best Literary Fiction Blog - 2011 Shortlisted Best Written Book Blog - 2010

For Whom The Bell Tolls – Book Review

…And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee. – John Donne-

For Whom The Bell Tolls is first and foremost a war novel. Spanning a scant three days, the novel is the story of Robert Jordan – a young American professor – who is attached to an antifascist guerilla unit in the mountains of Spain. Jordan’s mission is to blow up a bridge which is guarded by the fascists. He enlists the aid of a band of Communist guerillas, spending several days with them at a cave in the mountains. Hemingway introduces a broad range of characters, including Maria – the beautiful Spanish girl with a tragic history – who Jordan falls in love with practically on sight. The novel has all the makings of a classic, and in fact has been called Hemingway’s greatest work. Despite this, I found myself struggling to continue reading through the first half of the story.

Hemingway spends a great deal of time inside his character’s heads, repetitively showing us their thoughts and motivations. The dialogue tends to plod along, filled with ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ and odd phrases such as:

“Go and obscenity thyself,” Pablo told him.
-From For Whom The Bell Tolls, page 211-

I found myself tempted to scan through large portions of the book during the early going, and only hard-nosed determination kept me reading.

Luckily, the book redeems itself around page 270, when finally the reader gets to experience some action. It is the latter pages that Hemingway shows his skill as a writer, painting the tragedy of war in broad strokes and revealing the humanity of his characters.

I wanted badly to love this book. I have enjoyed other Hemingway novels (The Old Man and The Sea, for example), and have been captivated by Hemingway’s short stories. But, I’m afraid I cannot recommend this one. Had I not been reading this for a challenge and a group read, I would have quit less than 50 pages in. If the reader is diligent and can wade through the dryness of the first half of the book, they will be tragically rewarded in the end.


  1. Anonymous Anonymous
    April 7, 2007    

    Had I not been reading this for a challenge and a group read, I would have quit less than 50 pages in.
    Well, now, I can certainly relate to that! You have my sympathies and here’s hoping your next read is as good as mine has been!

  2. Anonymous Anonymous
    April 7, 2007    

    Thanks, Laura…this was a tough one to finish! I’m going for something light and easy now!

  3. Anonymous Anonymous
    April 8, 2007    

    Wendy, sorry to leave a note in your comments but congratulations you’ve WON!!! Have just done my BAFAB draw so head over to dgr scribbles for the details.

follow us in feedly

Publishers and Authors…

I am no longer accepting review copies of books except for very rare exceptions. Thank you.


Rating System

= Excellent
= Good/Very Good
= Okay read
= Not recommended
= Ugh! Don't waste your time.


Bee Groups


Book Giveaways

None Current.