Monday, 19 July 2010

The Great Gatsby

This was not a book which originally appealed to me. I do not find the ‘Jazz Age’ remotely appealing and as Fitzgerald is always hailed as the ‘great writer of the Jazz Age’ you can see why I had often bypassed this book. It was really only because I loved 'Tender is the Night' so much that I was suddenly on the lookout to read anything written by Fitzgerald.

For a quick summery of The Great Gatsby, Nick lives on the east coast near New York and narrates about his acquaintances with his cousin Daisy and more notably his neighbour Jay Gatsby. It is through his contact with these people and others that Nick becomes disillusioned and begins to see what all the money and glitz are hiding.

Well, on analysis this is a book about the ‘Jazz Age’ and some of the young rich Americans living at that time. While this lifestyle could be glamorous and exciting, Fitzgerald also saw a moral emptiness and hollow exuberance. But I was surprised to see so much more hidden in the depths of this short novel. I found commentary on all kinds of subjects like the rigid social classes that America had created for itself, the American dream, the pursuit of money and creating or breaking free from the past. Perhaps this depth is why this novel has become one of my favourites.

I am unable to pick a favourite character, I found them all equally fascinating and repulsive at the same time, they all played their roles perfectly and Fitzgerald once again has created a vivid and very real portrait of how I imagine the period to have been like. Underneath all the parties and trips to New York I got an overwhelming feeling of loneliness beneath it all and I was touched by the ending.

Like 'Tender is the Night' Fitzgerald used a lot of biographical elements which are projected onto some of the characters. There are too many to mention but perhaps this is one of the elements which gives Fitzgerald’s writing that indefinable ‘something’ and makes this book unforgettable?

I have been trying to think which I prefer, 'Tender is the Night' or 'The Great Gatsby'. Well there’s not much in it, in terms of writing and the way I felt while reading them I would say they are completely equal in this regard. But The Great Gatsby has given me slightly more to think about so I’ll say the Great Gatsby is my favourite Fitzgerald novel (but only just).

Would I recommend it? Yes of course. If you need further convincing, its less that 200 pages and easy to read and its a classic which you could 'tick' off your list.

Verdict 5/5

Posted by Jess


  1. great review!
    i also loved this book and fitzgerald's way of really making us see the loneliness and emptiness the characters felt.

  2. I have to admit to not being a big Fitzgerald fan. I have read The Great Gatsby (here is my review:

    but I didn't enjoy it as much as most people seem to. I have also tried to read other works of his but have never been able to maintain enough interest to keep reading.

  3. I lied - I have read and finished The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and really enjoyed it!

  4. Great review! I love The Great Gatsby, though I don't know very many people (my age) who do. Some of my classmates read it for English this year, and every single one of them (that I know of) hated it, which made me really sad. I think reading a book in English class kind of puts people off the book no matter how good it might be.

  5. I remember reading this in highschool and apparently need to reread it since I can recall so little of it. I'm sure it would me more to me now than it did then.

  6. So glad to read that you enjoyed - I think it is a fabulous book. Thanks for sharing

  7. Brizmus - I agree and glad you also loved this.

    Becky - theres always one isn't there ;) Funnily enough Chris did a read the book watch the movie with Benjamin Button and he really liked this story but none of Fitzgeralds other short stories.

    Zara - I wonder how many books school has ruined LOL I dont think my 15 year old person would have really 'got it' though.

    Lesa - see above and good to see you.

    Hannah - glad you enjoyed this one, have you read any of his other books?

  8. I love Gatsby and Tender is the night - the latter just winning out for me, (mainly because of a familiarity with its locations I think). Both are wonderful, and I must re-read Gatsby soon.

  9. I always say I prefer Tender is the Night, yet it's been 25 years since I read it. Certainly time for a reread, especially since Gatsby is fairly fresh in my mind. Great review!

  10. Annabel & Joann - its certainly close with The Great Gatsby and Tender is the night. I think perhaps my favourite of the two will always be the last one Ive read.

  11. I read this a few years ago, and actually did quite enjoy it. I don't think there are very many fence-sitters on this one. Perhaps Robert Redford in his younger days padded my opinion, as well. :)

  12. It really is an amazing novel, isn't it? Also, thank you for reminding that I've got to read Tender is the Night!