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Across the River and Into the Trees

Written by: Ernest Hemingway
Narrated by: Boyd Gaines
Length: 6 hrs and 59 mins
3 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Set in Venice at the close of World War II, Across the River and into the Trees is the bittersweet story of a middle-aged American colonel, scarred by war and in failing health, who finds love with a young Italian countess at the very moment when his life is becoming a physical hardship to him.

It is a love so overpowering and spontaneous that it revitalizes the man's spirit and encourages him to dream of a future, even though he knows that there can be no hope for long. Spanning a matter of hours, Across the River and into the Trees is tender and moving, yet tragic in the inexorable shadow of what must come.

©1950 Ernest Hemingway, 1978 Mary Hemingway. All rights reserved (P)2006 Simon and Schuster Inc. All rights reserved.

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Not Hemingway's best work

Still getting through my Audible backlog (be a while yet, there are some benefits to being a slow listener/reader) and decided on another Hemingway. I love Hem, always will so I gave it a listen.

No one writes like Hem anymore. He has a beauty with words that is lost to the ages. That said he also has the tendency to slow his writing down with a lot of description. Usually, I don't mind it but in this case, I've got to say the book really bogs down.

This is the kind of book you'd study in a university course and while I did plenty of that, I'm not getting into a long rant on it here (just a little one!). Hem was in 3 wars, both as a journalist and a solider (in truth he mixed the two together and did some amazing stuff in WWII). Hearing his thoughts on war, fighting, loss, writers and specific generals were interesting. His description of a duck shoot, the countryside in Venice (and Italy) and his girlfriend are all amazing. He can write dialogue in a very interesting way (though the way the main characters talk is looney, I can't imagine two people ever talked like that) and gives vivid descriptions of fight scenes (both in a way and a street brawl).

This book also gives you insight into the way Hem felt about himself, how he (possibly) always wanted to be with a young woman and maybe even some of his strange sexual fantasies. It also has one of the strangest sex scenes I've read in a book (that may even include sodomy) through the description is so vague it's hard to tell. Still, if you have a good imagination it is arousing (and certainly not for kids.)

That's all the positive, the biggest negative here is that very little happens in this book. Like most Hem books it doesn't end well but basically, the whole story is a retired colonel (50) goes to spend time with his much younger (19) girlfriend. They eat, drink and talk a lot, have sex and then he goes on a fishing trip without her and then his driver starts to take him away.

While it's not a long book (7 hours to listen to) it felt like a lot longer to me. You see the ending coming from a long ways off but that's often the case with Hem. To be honest it's probably the worst book I read by him. I can only give it 6 out of 10 and would only recommend to the most die-hard Hemingway fans like me. Please don't let your kids read/listen to this, ages 16+ for violence, sex, and mature themes. I will say the narration was excellent and probably makes the audiobook better than print.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ian
  • 2006-09-28

Extremely listenable

One of the things that I am most grateful to Audible for is introducing me to Hemingway. Like everything else of his this is sparsely written but magnificent and evocative. The economy of construction lends well to narration and the narrator is clear and interesing to listen to.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • N. D. Hemingway
  • 2018-03-27

A good book.

The book is 40% the rambling thoughts of a war veteran, and 50% banter between him and his young girlfriend. With that alone, Hemingway is able to make the reader understand.
I wasn't sure I liked it until it was over. I didn't think there was much to it until I looked back and saw how much I had learned about a person.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kevin
  • 2017-02-13

Better than expected

Contemporary critics did not care for Hemingway's "Across the River and Into the Trees." I enjoy Hemingway quite a bit and finally made my way to this novel. I found it to be a very touching story. The brief descriptions of leadership in war are both informative and heartbreaking. Highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • thomas
  • 2016-01-02

narrator lifts the novel

What about Boyd Gaines’s performance did you like?

Boyd Gaines gives an exquisite reading of one of Hemingway's more modest novels. In fact, it is read so well that in the audio version, the book exceeds its written impact. Boyd understands this novel so well, he gives me a newer insight into an old novel once only read.

This is the magic of audiobooks.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • zene
  • 2010-09-27

across the river and into the trees

I have enjoyed all of Hemmingway" books to date,(I have read several),but I'm beginning to worry that I can relate to all of his primary characters; and that does not feel all that "great". I would hope that I can cultivate a more encouraging outlook/perspective to my second 50 years.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • David Keuning
  • 2018-09-22

Hemingway’s overindulgent

I’m a big Hemingway Aficionado but this is not his better work. Too much of the dialog sounds like he’s only putting his own words into the mouths of his characters.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Steve
  • 2006-10-30

Disappointing!

I started this book years ago and never finished it. I spotted it on Audible and thought this time I will get to hear what happens. Unfortunately I didn’t. I am a huge fan of Hemingway but this book is awful. I have tried to listen to it 3 times and even though it is read really well and with passion, I have abandoned it once again. Get any of the other Hemingway books as they are brilliant, stay well clear of this one.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Patrick
  • 2012-05-06

A Bit of a let down.

I really couldnt follow this story. It seemed like Hemingway was not sure of himself when writing this one. For Whom the Bell Tolls was a work that left you wanting more but it was all I could do to drag my way through this one. To be fair I am not a great writer but I just didnt feel anything when listening to this verses For Whom the Bell Tolls where I felt the fear, anger, rage, passion, ect. All in all though it wasnt a waste of time.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful