So, with some birthday money I accrued, I went to B&N and picked up a few books, including this one. It was time to actually read it.
Jake's Catholicism was an interesting thread to the story. At first blush you wouldn't think any of these characters are religious. But Jake, we discover, is, and it's an interesting flavor in the novel. Brett is interested in his religion, but in a voyeuristic way (for example, when she says she wants to hear him go to confession). It's fascinating. I didn't know anything about this before I picked it up (the only thing I knew was bullfighting was involved), so I was really interested in this (obviously). When I go back through it I will have to read these parts more closely, and see if there is anything I may have missed in my first go-round.
My favorite character was Bill, Jake's friend from America, who provides the light-heartedness in the novel. Some of my favorite quotes from him:
"Have it your way. Road to hell paved with unbought stuffed dogs. Not my fault."
"Direct action...it beats legislation."
(Jake speaking) " I wonder what day God created the chicken."
"Oh," said Bill, sucking the drumstick, " how should we know? We should not question. Our stay on Earth is not for long. Let us rejoice and give thanks."
The bullfighting scenes are also wonderful. The only thing I remembered about bullfighting was from second grade Spanish class, so this was a good reminder of the logistics of bullfighting.
Anyway, if you're going to start with Hemingway, I would start with this.