It was bad, bad, bad in all the possible inflections of the word. It was drearily, astoundingly inept. It was a turd masquerading as fine jewelry. It was Kevin Costner with a Paul Newman mask. It was a regency romance with a Robert Capa cover. It was a public latrine with a whisky bar.
Let me go over the plot: American goes to Spain, lives in a cave, drinks alcohol, makes vague chit chat with proud, not very bright, colourful locals and falls in love with a previously abused gipsy. John Donne is too good for this tripe: it should have been called "the Gipsy and I", "Eat, Pray, Blow Bridges" or "The Civil War was really fucking exotic".
The characters never even made the two-dimensional status- they hang like pale specters of a postal from the thirties, pure folklore, cliché and poorly digested Goya, Lorca, or whoever fooled Hemingway into thinking that Spain was even remotely like this. Of course, there was never any chance of me enjoying a novel that ponders the qualities of spanish wives (oh, for god's sake), but I might have tolerated
it if its male protagonist had been any less than a brilliant paragon of American infallibility AND Hemingway hadn't done his utmost to reproduce some weird jargon in its prodigiously stilted dialogue. Now, I don't know what the hell he was trying to achieve, but the result is certainly not Spanish. Even if it was, what is the point of writing with the grammar of another language? In the best of the cases, it's clumsy; in the worst, it's wrong.
to explain all the things that are wrong with this novel, but I have plans before Christmas. So I'll make a summary: the history? Simplistic. The prose? Repetitive and conceited. The bits in spanish? Wrongly spelled. And he got the idioms wrong. The characters? Pure cartoons. The plot? Insufficient to fill 500 pages.
I did like the end though. Die, Jordan. Good riddance, you smug asshole.