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Islands in the Stream [Paperback]

Ernest Hemingway
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 10 1997
A LATER CLASSIC FROM AMERICA'S PREMIER FICTION WRITER
First published in 1970, nine years after Hemingway's death, this is the story of an artist and adventurer -- a man much like Hemingway himself. Beginning in the 1930s, Islands in the Stream follows the fortunes of Thomas Hudson, from his experiences as a painter on the Gulf Stream island of Bimini through his antisubmarine activities off the coast of Cuba during World War II. Hemingway is at his mature best in this beguiling tale.

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Review

"Many of the episodes contain the most exciting and effective writing Hemingway has ever done." -- John W. Aldridge Saturday Review "This book contains some of the best of Hemingway's descriptions of nautre: the waves breaking white and green on the reef off the coast of Cuba; the beauty of the morning on the deep water; the hermit crabs and land crabs and ghost crabs; a big barracuda stalking mullet; a heron flying with his white wings over the green water; the ibis and flamingoes and spoonbills, the last of these beautiful with the sharp rose of their color; the mosquitoes in clouds from the marshes; the water that curled and blew under the lash of the wind; the sculpture that the wind and sand had made of a piece of driftwood, gray and sanded and embedded in white, floury sand." -- Edmund Wilson Saturday Review --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

9 1.5-hour cassettes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
THE HOUSE was built on the highest part of the narrow tongue of land between the harbor and the open sea. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Beauty and Danger April 20 2014
By Murray
Format:Paperback
The story is beautifully written, and it has a slow but steady pace. This story is composed of three short stories. It starts on the island of Bimini and progresses to Cuba and ends up chasing a U boat crew through the mangrove swamps off the coast of that island. The setting is very well developed and it was easy to picture the natural beauty depicted. The author probably wrote, in part, from his own experience. The story is slow but it has some action and adventure. The shark attack and fighting a thousand pound Marlin Swordfish are high points. I also liked the chasing of the U boat crew story.

The literal islands are allegories for the protagonist Thomas Hudson’s personal islands. In the case of Bimini the island is his family of four sons who come to visit and a couple of friends. On Cuba the island is Hudson’s family of cats. He is known as a man who loves cats. The literal stream is the gulfstream. It is a current in the ocean that brings danger in the form of sharks, a Marlin Swordfish and U boats. Fighting happens there and it is both beautiful and dangerous. It is an allegory for life, something akin to the river of life. It takes Hudson’s life. In the end the last words reveal that Hudson is an island onto himself. An introverted self focused man who likes to be alone. He misses the fact that he is loved by others. He doesn’t like women to be close, but he can’t live without them. He is the kind of man who entertains himself while alone.

This story was published after the author’s death so he didn’t have any input on the last draft. Given that, I didn’t really notice his pared down style or his economical use of words. I did notice his ability to say things without writing them as in the case of the death of Peters.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Good, the Bad and the Mediocre... Aug. 12 2010
By D Glover TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
The Good, the Bad, and the Mediocre...

...in that order. I'd probably give this book 3.5 stars, somewhere between it was good and it was OK, if I could.

The first of the three sections of this novel is truly good. It introduces us to Thomas Hudson, a painter and a thinly veiled Hemingway, and his life on the island of Bimini. Hudson, like Hemingway, is an artist who is serious about his craft and about his work ethic. We learn of his life among the characters of the island, including the locals and his friends. The richest part of all is the visit of his three sons (by his first two wives) and the good times they share. There is good character development of all three boys, each so different from the others and each showing different parts of their father's personality. And there are the friends and servants of Hudson's, whom he loves and who play important parts in his son's lives, often where it is difficult for a father to enter. There is a tense shark attack and an epic battle with a monster marlin by the middle son, and there is a great deal of psychology of boys and men woven richly throughout. Hudson is a father who can't seem to love all-out, whole-heartedly, even though his sons need and want it. The feelings are there but the wiring in Hudson's head and heart shorts out a little and never conducts his deepest, truest self to his boys. Tragically, Hudson learns of the death of his two youngest sons and their mother (his second wife) at the close of the story.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four-And-A-Half Stars and a Favorite of Mine Oct. 24 2003
Format:Hardcover
I wish Amazon would incorporate 1/2 stars but I guess that would make things even more complicated. This is one of my favorite Hemingway books and one of the few published posthumously that lives up to his legacy.
The book, broken into three distinct sections, recounts chapters in the life of Thomas Hudson, a somewhat thinly veiled version of Hemingway. That's not to say that this is a story about Hemingway himself, but its pretty clear there is a lot of Hemingway in Hudson.
The first section, considered by many to be the best (and, as a I recall, the focus of the film made of the book), takes place in Bimini, where Hudson is leading a fairly idyllic life. The second is centered in Cuba but has an entirely different tone from that of the first. Whereas the "Bimini" section is almost light-hearted and somewhat breezy, the tone of the Cuba section has changed dramatically. Hudson is now a depressed individual having lost a son in an accident. He has a reunion with his first wife, but even though she is the love of his life, he knows it won't end happily. The third part, "At Sea," recounts Hudson's efforts as a Nazi sub hunter.
Hemingway is at his best throughout much of the book, his men are all striving to prove that they are, well, men, or at least the ideal of what a man should be in Hemingway's eyes. And naturally enough, no Hemingway man, in this case Hudson, would be complete without a little tragedy in his life. "At Sea," while powerfully told, seems somehow incomplete, which may well be the case since I do not think Hemingway completed the book before his death. In fact, the ending seemed extremely abrupt and left me wondering, did Hudson survive his wounds?
Still, this is some of Hemingway's best work. A must read. The only reason I did not give it five stars is because of the abrupt ending and a few other brief passages in the book that seem somehow incomplete and unfinished.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing novel
Ernest Hemingway is my favorite author. It began by reading "For Whom the Bell Tolls" in a high school English class. The way he writes is his own. Read more
Published on July 31 2003 by Evan Wearne
5.0 out of 5 stars In the tropics, they come and they go!
Of the Hemingway books I've read or tried to read, Islands in the Stream is my favorite thus far. All the great and not-so-great elements of his legendary style are here, from the... Read more
Published on April 15 2003 by David A. Bede
5.0 out of 5 stars One of his best
_Islands in the Stream_ is my favorite novel by Ernest Hemingway. Like most of his works, the prose is relatively sparse but very readable and very entertaining. Read more
Published on April 4 2003 by Ross James Browne
4.0 out of 5 stars 1 glorious story of life on the stream and 2 that fall short
If the first section on Bimini (the Island on the Stream [the gulf stream for those who still do not understand]) was package by itself it would have received 5 stars. Read more
Published on April 2 2003 by B. Bond
3.0 out of 5 stars Good - Bad Hemingway
This is a good - bad book. The good is the first part, set in Bimini in 1940, and the third part, which describes the hunt for a U-Boat crew off the coast of Cuba. Read more
Published on March 23 2002 by Walter Boldys
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Hemingway book ever!
Before this book, my two favorite Hemingway novels of fiction were The Old Man And The Sea (in my top three of all time!) and The Sun Also Rises.
Not any longer. Read more
Published on Dec 1 2001 by Sean Erik Ponce
5.0 out of 5 stars Islands in the Stream
Ernest Hemingway's Islands in the Stream is my favorite book by Hemingway, and indeed, my favorite book. Read more
Published on Oct. 31 2001 by "lindsay@willinet.net"
2.0 out of 5 stars Unless you LOVE Hemingway... don't bother
The cover reads, "His greatest love story." There is only a tidbit of love speckled here and there. For the most part the novel is completely absent of any females. Read more
Published on July 31 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars His best piece of work
Islands in the Stream is such a beautiful novel...discriptive and captivating....tragic and joyfull......if you havent read it......you simply must...... Read more
Published on June 16 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars the handbook of my youth
islands in the stream became one of the handbooks for the conduct of my early years: adventures in the caribbean, adventures in europe, serious drinking and questions of existence. Read more
Published on July 13 2000 by C. M. Newland
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