The Classics Club: The Beautiful and Damned

The Beautiful and Damned

I won a beautiful Alma set of F Scott Fitzgerald’s work two years ago but sadly until I picked up The Great Gatsby last year the set had been gathering dust on my bookshelf. Almost a year after I picked up The Great Gatsby I thought it was about time to pick up another one and from the set I chose The Beautiful and Damned.

The Beautiful and Damned follows Anthony Patch a privileged, fashionable and handsome young man. Anthony lives in New York as the jazz age is taking hold of the country. Anthony, the heir of his extremely prosperous grandfather, fritters away his days on reading, dining, drinking and entertaining with no interest in working as he contemplates the money he will inherit instead. During the winter season Anthony meets, and quickly falls in love with and marries the beautiful socialite Gloria. Rather than Anthony settling down to a career and raising a family the marriage only accelerates Anthony and Gloria’s descent into a life of glamour and debauchery. Neither have a care for money as they look forward to the day they will inherit Anthony’s grandfather’s fortune.

Like The Great Gatsby I loved the setting of The Beautiful and Damned. The clothes, music, parties and glamour of the jazz age is intoxicating. I find the society, outlook and opinions of the age unattractive though and in turn so are the characters in this novel. Anthony is educated and privileged he looks down upon those he believes to be inferior in wealth, education, class and appearance. Anthony is surrounded by opportunities but I feel he squanders them all. Gloria is a beautiful and spoilt girl who cares only for being admired, loved and surrounded by beautiful things. Gloria has broken more hearts than she could possibly count and has done it without remorse. Together Anthony and Gloria are a toxic combination. I thought they were fascinating to read about but I didn’t like them.

The Beautiful and Damned is my second foray into F Scott Fitzgerald’s work my first was The Great Gatsby. I look forward to reading the rest of the Alma set. I find Fitzgerald’s writing to be detailed, eloquent, but quite meandering. Fitzgerald is certainly not a direct writer. Rather than this annoying me though I find this style adds to the precocious, aloof, and flamboyant mood of the age and setting. Which works particularly well here as The Beautiful and Damned is told predominantly from Anthony’s point of view (a little is told from Gloria’s) a man who is increasingly aloof and flamboyant with too much time to think and meander on his hands. Not sure this style would work for me in any other setting though.

The Beautiful and Damned is a glitzy glimpse into the past. I can’t say I loved this novel because of the dislikeable characters but I did find it all very interesting. I recommend to those interested in the jazz age and American classics. This is my 21st read off my Classics Club list. I have Tender is the Night and This Side of Paradise to choose from next. Okay read.

Have you read Fitzgerald? What novel should I read next?

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14 thoughts on “The Classics Club: The Beautiful and Damned

  1. I’ve read Gatsby twice (maybe three times?) so I’m tempted to try this one too–the setting definitely sounds like it would be fun to explore, but the main characters definitely don’t sound likable, and I’m not sure how much that would bother me!

    1. Cheryl if you enjoyed The Great Gatsby you would probably enjoy this. The characters aren’t very likeable but then again I don’t think Fitzgerald wanted you to like them! I think they are probably written in the extreme to make a point.

  2. I haven’t read any Fitzgerald and for some reason the novels don’t really appeal to me. To be honest I don’t tend to read a lot of books with a 20s setting so that could be why. Glad you’re enjoying these (in spite of unlikable characters) and also reducing your classics list at the same time!
    Lynn 😀

    1. Thank you Lynn. I have recently been in the mood for reading classics. I have now just finished The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as well which you might be more interested in 🙂

  3. I keep meaning to read this as it is one of my best friend’s favourite novels! Glad you enjoyed it; the set of books you have is beautiful.

  4. I read Tender is the Night earlier this year and had the same problem with not liking the characters. I do like Fitzgerald’s writing, though, and I love those Alma covers!

  5. I read this last year for the Classics Club and agree with you. The characters were quite unlikeable. I did like the writing though, but somehow wished there was a little more drama/tension within the novel.

    1. Nish I know what you mean the pace of the story is slow and like the style meanders along which meant I read it at quite a slow pace as there wasn’t the tension to hurry me up.

  6. I re-read The Great Gatsby last year, and I’ve been meaning to re-read other novels including this one since. You have reminded me why I want to.

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