I'm really not sure what to write to convince you to read this book. I absolutely adore Hemingway and this book is right behind Farewell to Arms as my favorite one of his books. The story begins in France and features Jake Barnes, as the protagonist, with his friends on their experience of the fiestas, running of the bulls, and bullfighting in Spain.
To me, it might be the quintessential Hemingway novel, capturing everything that immediately comes to mind when I think of his stories - likable but tortured main characters, unrequited love, wine, and bullfighting. I find Lady Ashley one of the most memorable female characters in his books--although I despising her throughout most of it. She is very alive and Hemingway does such a good job of creating characters that the reader knows and identifies with. It's almost as if you could put people you know in the cast to play out the story. The Sun Also Rises and The Great Gatsby were both written around the same time and attempt to capture the essence of the "Lost Generation" following WWI.
Someone told me this week that they were afraid that I had an inclination to melancholy art -- depressing songs, sad books, heartbreaking movies. I started thinking about that and why that might be true. I remember having such a strong connection with Farewell to Arms, which is the saddest story I've read, but I was so invested in the story that I specifically recall the feeling I had when I finished it. Timing is everything when it comes to those things - sometimes you read a book, watch a movie, or listed to a song at the right time, and no matter how dark it is, you are still able to take comfort in identifying with it and are able to find some joy in it.
I had read The Sun Also Rises before and I remember not connecting with it or loving it. This second time around was really good timing.
Read this book. Read it every year. It really is that good - I'll name it as my favorite of 2010 thus far.