This is one of those books that I felt I should know something about since it's all popular and stuff, though, in all honesty, I knew it wouldn't appeal on a personal level seeing as how I've never been a fan of Hemingway, either his works or the stories of him as a person.
For the first half, I was intrigued. Reading a fictional account of the Hemingways' lives in Europe was fun and interesting, full of famous characters, some of whose works I do actually enjoy. It painted a delightful tableau of literary authors' lives captured in a brief moment in time.
And then I got so bored. Hadley, who sounds as if she was actually a fairly spiffy person, was a tedious character. I couldn't feel anything for her. Hemingway comes across as a charmer, a braggart, a hard-at-his-craft-worker, and an asshole. I already thought these things about him, though, so it's not like this convinced me to know him better. In fact, it felt odd to have little bits of Hemingway's point-of-view (in third person) written in here and there and the last one, at the end of Ch. 45, was just irritating. I felt like I was supposed to read about his relationship with his mother and then feel all sad for him and become more understanding of why he was a cad, a lost soul, incapable of love and bent toward romantic destruction. I felt manipulated by this piece and that irked me.
The second half of the book is painful. You know how it's going to end but it takes forever to get there. It's very drawn-out but not in a way that helps to explain the crumbling of a marriage, the feelings involved, the sense of loss and alienation and indignation, the whys and hows. The way this was written, none of the characters cared overly much that this supposedly great relationship was ending because another had begun. I wanted to feel all ripped-apart, to feel Hadley's pain but apparently, her pain wasn't too bad and she continued to love Ernest until his dying day, never really placing any blame on his shoulders or the shoulders of Pauline. Ugh, it was all just so bland and nicely-tied-up.
So while I liked the imagery and the settings and the time period and even the writing, I didn't overmuch enjoy the story, not because it's a tragic tale but because it was boring.