What’s it all about?:
In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write “something new–something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned.” That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald’s finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author’s generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald’s–and his country’s–most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. Gatsby’s rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.
It’s also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby’s quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means–and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. “Her voice is full of money,” Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel’s more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy’s patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout.
What did I think?:
Why haven’t I read this book up until now? I have no idea, as I thought it was absolutely stunning. The narrator of the story is Nick Carraway, who comes into contact with Gatsby through being his neighbour, and being invited to one of Gatsby’s infamous social gatherings. To be honest, I didn’t really “get it” until about halfway through, when things begin kicking off in style. It is engaging and beautifully realised account of love, deception, money and tragedy, that kept me turning the pages. The author paints a portrait of a man rising above his social situation into a life idealised as the “American Dream.” full of parties, fine foods, wine and jazz. What is also interesting to realise is how fickle life and people can be when the party stops.
I was surprised to discover that it’s only 180 pages long, but I thought that was a perfect length for this story – any longer, I don’t think it would have had the desired effect.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):