Book #62-From Here to Eternity by James Jones

Irene has forced the delay of publishing this post, but I am now returned to the use of all things powered by modern electricity.

This was a hefty read at 850 pages, but I anticipated an enjoyable tale.  Unfortunately, I was very disappointed.  This might have engaged me with 400 pages, focusing on Jones’ ability at dialog.  It was just too, too long.

Set in 1941 Hawaii, we are introduced to G Company and witness harsh treatment upon those soldiers who dare to fall out of line.  Conflicted with their loyalties, many make the painful choices to honor their consciences and pay dearly for their decisions.

Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt, from Kentucky is referred to, by friends only, as Prew.  A bugler who played proudly at Arlington, he is also skilled in boxing.  A tragedy in the ring and a deathbed promise to his mother stop his participation on his company’s boxing team, which results in his being ostracized and precludes his plans of being a “thirty year man”.   It was easy to like this man who stood by his convictions.

First Sergeant Milton Anthony Warden, a serious soldier is strict and disciplined, yet he risks his career by having an affair with the wife of his superior.  (Who hasn’t seen the clip of the lovers in the sand?)  This character fell flat for me; he was just a little too stiff and I just did not get the sense that he had any true feelings, evidenced by his ability to move on just a little too easily.

Alma Schmidt, known as Lorene in the brothel where she works has a plan.  She works very hard and is rewarded with a beautiful home in the Hawaiian hills and plans to save more money and marry into obscurity.  She takes Prew into her home where they shut out their professional lives, but it is not to be a long-lived situation.  Unfortunately, we never really see Lorene’s true essence.

I’m sure I’d enjoy chatting with Mr. Jones about his WWII experiences.  Perhaps he’d share his skill at writing dialog.

My rating for From Here to Eternity is a 6 out of 10.

To see the entire list, visit Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels.

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Next up, John Cheever’s The Wapshot Chronicles…


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