The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway: Book Review

I have an affiliate relationship with and Malaprop's Bookstore in beautiful Asheville, NC. I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you if you purchase merchandise through links on my site. Read more on my affiliate page.
Cover of The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

2 Stars

A group of friends travel to Pamplona, Spain for the annual running of the bulls and subsequent bullfights and fiesta.

I didn’t like it. Not one bit.

We read this for my book club because one of our members remembered loving it when she read it in an English class and had been wanting to re-read it. Even she said it was not at all what she remembered and it must have been made better by an awesome English teacher. Let’s hear it for awesome English teachers!

Left to struggle through on my own devices, however, I found nothing redeeming in any of these characters. Which was probably the point, but still. I like to read about characters that I actually like. The best one was the narrator, so that was a plus, but he couldn’t keep his friends in line and I don’t think he wanted to. They were all so very cynical and had seen everything and done everything that they got a little boring.

I told one of my friends who hadn’t quite finished by the time our meeting rolled around, “Let me save you some time. They go out, get drunk, Brett sleeps with someone who is not her fiance, the Jew (as he was mostly known) got mad that she wasn’t sleeping with him and hit somebody, they all drank some more, and started over the next day.”

And that’s what I took away from this book. Life is short and boring, you drink and argue, then you die.

I did like Hemingway’s style. He’s very short and to the point and without seeming to waste a lot of time on description, he manages to put you firmly in a scene. I would occasionally get confused as to who was speaking because he didn’t like to use too many “I said”s or “Brett said”s. Otherwise, stylistically, we got along just fine.

I knew this was a classic, so I started trying to find some sort of symbolism. I decided that the poor impotent narrator should be the steer in his herd and then I tried to relate what was happening with the bulls to what was going on with the people, but nothing ever clicked. I must not be in a place in my life for Hemingway to speak to me.

I got confused about time a little too. It would sound like weeks had passed when really it had been days. People would be intensely in love and talking marriage and decide it would never work and sound like they’d had a whole long time together when they’d just met for the first time five or six days before, as far as I could tell.

This book was not for me, but obviously it appeals to someone. It might appeal more to men (Hemingway being one of those very masculine writers) or to urbane people with a cynical mindset, I don’t know.

Read an excerpt.

Buy The Sun Also Rises at


photo credit:
Love Of Books by George Hodan

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

Other Posts You May Enjoy:


  1. I feel ya. I read this in college and didn't much like it, either. EH just felt so…detached. Later, an English major friend (who admittedly loves EH) said part of the detachment, as I called it, was the PTSD and disenchantment with the world following the violence of WWI.

    Heck, if I know if she was right. Either way, it's wasn't my cup of tea.

  2. I just read my first Hemingway book ever, and I wasn't too excited by it. 🙁 I am planning on giving him another try, but I don't think it will be this book. Great review!

I love to hear from you! Please contact me (menu bar, above) if you're having trouble commenting.