Blurb: “Generally considered to be F.Scott Fitzgerald’s finest novel, The Great Gatsby is a consummate summary of the ‘roaring twenties’ and a devastating expose of the ‘jazz age.’ Through the narration of Nick Carraway, the reader is taken into the superficially glittering world of the mansions which lined the Long Island shore of the American seaboard in the 1920s, to encounter Nick’s cousin Daisy, Jay Gatsby and the dark mystery which surrounds him.”
If anyone was to ask me which books are my absolute favourites of all time, I would tell them that The Great Gatsby has sat very comfortably in my top three from the moment I finished reading it. I have read it many times, and the great joy about this book is that I learn something new/gain a new perspective almost every time I re-read it.
Although I have to admit, I first read it for slightly selfish reasons: Leonardo DiCaprio had just been cast for the Upcoming 2013 adaptation. So I picked up a copy to read it in preparation for that. If that wasn’t the case, this book would probably have sailed by me without notice. Alas, I didn’t expect to come out of the initial reading experience of this book feeling quite changed, or that it would bring on a book hangover that would last me four months.
The story follows Nick Carraway who moves to the West Egg district of Long Island where he intends to become a part of the Bond business in New York. He is a man of small money and subscribes to the idea of the American Dream (“life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth). He lives across the bay from his cousin Daisy who is married to the rich Tom Buchanan who believes very firmly that white people are the superior race and it should stay that way. But these are not the focus of Nick’s curiosity, that role is taken by the mysterious Jay Gatsby who lives in the mansion next to him, and occasionally throws lavish parties which are attended by thousands. One day Nick receives an invitation to one of Gatsby’s parties. Upon his arrival, Nick discovers that he is the only person to be given an invitation – the other guests have simply turned up. Not only that, but no one has actually seen Gatsby in person.
What initially looks like a short (115 pages in the Wordsworth edition) story about elitist, rich folks in the roaring twenties has many cracks forming under the surface. While Daisy seems to be naive, selfish and stupid, one line she utters about her daughter in the book gave me chills, and this one simple line changed my perception of her: “I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” Albeit it only a tiny bit.
Nick is the perfect example of a person getting wrapped up too much in other people’s problems and failing to see the monumental flaws they have. He seems unable to see someone outside of the pedestal he so highly places them on.
Well, you’ll have to pick up this truly phenomenal book to find out more about him.
The writing is utterly gorgeous and I can only hope that the rest of F.Scott Fitzgerald’s work lives up to this wonder. Honestly, I could talk non-stop for hours about how much I love this book.
Also the 2013 adaptation conveys everything I love about this novel, despite apparently being very controversial. But who knows, maybe I’ll do a blog post on that another day.
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