Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway & Pasta Asciutta

First off, I would like to thank you Janel of Janel’s Jumble for becoming a follower of Novel Meals!

Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway is a semi-autobiographical novel set in Italy during World War I. The main character, Frederic Henry, is an American ambulance driver serving in the Italian Army. Henry’s attitude is hard to define – he looks at everything so matter-of-fact. Not a positive or negative side.

Early on he meets English nurse Catherine Barkley and falls in love. The rain, and I mean actual rain..…precipitation …ought to have been written about as a character it showed up so much. Once he falls in love with Catherine he wants nothing else but to get away from the war and start their life together. In the meantime Henry’s life changes further during an attack in which a mortar hits his leg, seriously wounding him and killing Passini.

“I ate the end of my piece of cheese and took a swallow of wine. Through the other noise I heard a cough, then came the chuh-chuh-chuh-chuh- then there was a flash, as when a blast-furnace door is swung open, and a roar that started white and went red and on and on in a rushing wind.”

Henry gets sent to a hospital in Milan where he seems to wait an eternity to see a doctor. I’m thinking the leg is going to be amputated at this point. Catherine shows up at the hospital and you know then, they are committed to one another. They spend the summer in Milan as Henry recuperates.

Catherine states to Henry that she’s always been afraid of the rain. Henry pesters her to explain why and she banters, “Don’t make me” “Tell me” “No” and this goes on a bit.

And then she says,

“I’m afraid of the rain because sometimes I see me dead in it.”


“And sometimes I see you dead in it”

“That’s more likely, “ he tells her.

“It’s all nonsense. I’m not afraid of the rain. I’m not afraid of the rain. Oh, oh god I wish I wasn’t” She was crying. I comforted her and she stopped crying. But outside it kept on raining.

It’s almost like Catherine could see part of her future.

Photo Credit

After Henry escapes an interrogation which, he knows, will end with his execution, he finds Catherine again and they escape to Switzerland. Catherine is pregnant now and they go to live in Lausanne as it is close to a hospital. The labor is hard and long and sadly, the baby is stillborn. To make it more tragic, Catherine starts hemorrhaging and dies. Henry is by her side through all of it. It was awful to read those last pages.

After Catherine dies, he walks back to his hotel room in the rain. That’s the end. Really sad.

“I sat down on the chair in front of a table where there were nurses’ reports hung on clips at the side and looked out of the window. I could see nothing but the dark and the rain falling across the light from the windows. So that was it. The baby was dead.” Chapter 41

“It seems she had one hemorrhage after another. They couldn’t stop it. I went into the room and stayed with Catherine until she died. She was unconscious all the time, and it did not take her very long to die.” Chapter 41

So many images that made you sad. In thinking of the meals and food items mentioned, I just didn’t’ want to make the sauerkraut and ham which were one of Henry’s meals in the last chapter.

I decided to prepare pasta asciutta as this was a meal Henry shared with Gordini, Manera, Gavuzzi and Passini before they were attacked and wounded.

“I took out my knife, opened it, wiped off the blade and pared off the dirty outside surface of the cheese. Gavuzzi handed me the basin of macaroni.”

“Start in to eat, Tenente”

“No,” I said, “ put it on the floor. We’ll all eat.”

“There are no forks.”

“What the hell, “ I said in English. I cut the cheese into pieces and laid them over the macaroni. “Sit down to it,” I said. They sat down and I waited. I put my thumb and fingers into the macaroni and lifted. A mass loosened.

“Lift it high, Tenente.”

I lifted it to arms length and the strands cleared…….took a bite of cheese, chewed, and then a drink of wine.

Pasta Asciutta

Recipe may be found at Life in the Slow Lane at Squirrel Head Manor.

I am placing this review on Goodreads and LibraryThing.

Happy Reading!

I am linking to Italy in Reading Challenge. This completes my third book in the challenge.

More info….
Ernest Hemingway

World War 1 and Italy


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