The story is set during World War I and was written when Hemingway was only 30 years old. I felt that his personal experience with being an ambulance driver in the war gave this novel more credibility, as he seemed very familiar with the geography of Italy and Switzerland, as well as with the social dynamics pertaining to those involved in the war. This being said, I didn't realize until I finished the novel that it is considered to be Hemingway's bleakest work....So, don't expect all sunshine and daisies, but do expect a poignant story that allows the reader to interpret and take part vicariously in the very human relationship between Catherine Barkley and Lieutenant Henry.
I finished this novel in one day; I couldn't put it down. Something about the invitation to reader interpretation, the gripping understanding of human emotion, and thoughtful prose in Hemingway's writing always leaves me feeling satisfied and more insightful.
This is a photo of Hemingway taken in Milan circa 1918, about 11 years before he wrote A Farewell to Arms. Isn't he a babe?