I won a beautiful Alma set of F Scott Fitzgerald’s work last year but until now the set has been gathering dust on my bookshelf. With the up-coming release of Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation of The Great Gatsby I found myself spurred on to read it. As I am looking forward to seeing the film at the cinema. Of course The Great Gatsby is also Fitzgerald’s most famous book so it felt like the right place to start in the set.
The Great Gatsby follows Nick Carraway in the summer of 1922 as he moves from the Midwest to Long Island to start a job as a bonds man in New York. The only people Nick vaguely knows when he arrives is his cousin Daisy and her husband Tom Buchanan but they live in the more affluent area across the bay from Nick. While Nick’s area might be more up and coming it doesn’t take him long to notice his neighbour Gatsby. Every weekend Gatsby throws ever more flamboyant and fabulous parties. One evening Nick finds his neighbour Gatsby has personally invited him. From that evening on Nick finds himself a front row spectator to the tangle of Gatsby’s present, past, and future. I simply adored the setting of this book! I have always had an attraction to the glitz, glamour, and liberated behaviour of the ‘roaring twenties’ which this book played right into. However Fitzgerald has written a balanced novel where by we don’t just see the positive aspects of this time period. I was interested to read more about the social structure, the clique mind-set, and the lack of much responsibility.
The narrator of The Great Gatsby Nick Carraway I found was the only character I really liked or made any true connection with. He is honest, educated, and came across as a pretty decent fellow. I found the protagonist of the story Gatsby to be very interesting but I never felt like I really knew him. While I found myself completely disliking Daisy and her husband Tom. Actually I found myself disliking nearly all the characters but Nick. The problem was I found them all to be shallow, aloof, and secretive. I feel though this might have been intentionally because the characters themselves seemed to realise it but accepted this behaviour as normal. What I really learnt was the glitz, glamour, and flamboyant parties were pretty much all these socialites had, and that there wasn’t really much going on underneath it all.
The Great Gatsby was my first foray into F Scott Fitzgerald’s work which won’t be my last as I look forward to reading this rest of the Alma set. I found Fitzgerald’s writing to be detailed, eloquent, but quite meandering. Fitzgerald is certainly not a direct writer. He instead often starts off on one tangent to only intersect it midway through with something that catches his interest to then move back to his original point. This was quite hard to keep track of at first but once I got used to his style I didn’t find it bothered me too much. In fact it probably added to the precocious, aloof, and flamboyant mood of the setting. Not sure this style would work in any other setting though!
Overall I thought The Great Gatsby was an interesting and glitzy glimpse into the past. I can’t go as far as to say I loved it though because of the general lack of connection to the characters. Recommended to those interested in the 1920’s and American classics. This is now my 12th read off my Classics Club list.
Are you a fan of F Scott Fitzgerald? What Fitzgerald’s novel do you think I should read next?