The Classics Club: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby

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?

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24 thoughts on “The Classics Club: The Great Gatsby

  1. I loved The Great Gatsby; I found it lyrical yet concise and its language very accessible to contemporary readers. I liked Nick, but I also liked Gatsby; I thought in the end he was a victim of the shallowness of Daisy and Tom.
    I also have Tender Is the Night and The Beautiful and Damned on my TBR list.

    1. Carmen I am glad you enjoyed The Great Gatsby so much. I also liked Nick and Gatsby and I couldn’t stand Daisy and Tom. I read The Beautiful and the Damned this year. I hope you enjoy that too.

  2. Hi Jessica. I’m looking forward to the movie mostly for Baz and DiCaprio. I don’t know many people that actually love this book, but it is very well written. I studied it in high school and remember it well as a result. Fitzgerald is very detached and there are many motifs and symbols in this book. Nick is the everyman and we are suppose to enter the world and be disgusted by the opulence, decadence and hedonism. Also the idea of living in the past and for the superficial. I think Nick realizes how fast he falls into it to, but knows by the end of the novel like we did, how destructive it is to the psyche and people’s lives. I find Gatsby a very tragic character, but like you said, the reader never truly knows the whole story of him, but it can’t be good. The book says a lot of about the Lost Generation though. It’s one extreme to another. I’ve read This is Paradise and Tender in the Night, the other of FSF’s novels, are similar to Gatsby. I want to read them eventually too. Cheers.

    1. Hello Athena, thank you for this lovely detailed comment. You make some great points. All of which I agree with. Between This Side of Paradise and Tender is the Night which would you recommend I read next?

      1. Sorry! I mean to say I want to read those two. I forgot to mention that I’ve only read a small collection of his short stories (which include the Benjamin Button one). I still haven’t decided between This Side and Tender… I think the former is more well known.

        1. Aw, not to worry Athena. Until I read The Great Gatsby all I’d read of Fitzgerald’s work was his short-story Benjamin Button. If This Side of Paradise is the more well known perhaps that might be a good one to move on to next.

      1. Jessica,
        I am sorry that I have been busy during the weekend and did not have the chance to post your book yet. I will post it on Monday and hopefully you will get it this week! sorry for the delay.

  3. I seem to have read a number of reviews for this just recently – all mixed. One said that she read it but disliked the characters, another said she loved it, another that it’s the Great American Novel!

    Not sure that I’ll pick this up at the moment – it’s not on my list so I think I’ll stick to the one’s I’ve already got on there.
    Lynn 😀

    1. Hello Lynn. Every review I have read for this book has been completely different too! If you’re not particularly interested in the 1920s and/or American classics than I agree I would just focus on the books you do have on your Classics Club list instead.

    1. Hello Ali, thank you for stopping by and commenting 🙂 Always lovely to hear from a new face. I really hope you enjoy your re-read of this book. It is a beautiful copy isn’t it? Alma re-released Fitzgerald’s work last year in this new style. I was so pleased to win a set.

  4. Good point about Gatsby, it’s difficult to know him and truly understand because there’s just this lack of information somehow. I was surprised by the film trailer – somehow my visuals of the parties weren’t half as raucous as those in the film!

    1. Hello Charlie. I had a similar reaction when I saw the film trailer too. Looks even more fabulous and flamboyant than I had managed to imagine! I’m looking forward to the film even more now 😀

    1. Hello Geoff, it is a beautiful cover isn’t it? Alma released the whole set of Fitzgerald’s work in this new look last year. I was so chuffed to have won them 😀

  5. I recently read this, and still need to write the review. I also enjoyed the book, but can’t say that I loved it. My favourite character was also Nick.

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