Monday, 15 May 2017

Book Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

A mesmerising and enchanting look into the excess and decadence of the 1920's, The Great Gatsby focuses on a mysterious millionaire, Jay Gatsby, and his obsession for the rich and beautiful (and wed) Daisy Buchanan. The story is narrated by Nick Carraway, a bond salesman renting a small house on Long Island, right next door to the illustrious Gatsby, with whom he forms a friendship.

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

Okay, I think I'm becoming a tad obsessed with The Great Gatsby. I couldn't remember if I had read it before or not, and to be honest, I'm still not sure...BUT I had seen the movie before reading this book and I would say it actually enhanced the reading experience. It really helped with the visualisation of Gatsby's grand parties and the associated excess and debauchery. It would almost be impossible to imagine all the beauty and grandeur that this book revolves around.

I love this story, it's heartbreaking and tragic and beautiful and a really interesting analysis into one cross-section of American society. It makes me want to live in the 1920's (just as long as I'm stinkin' rich!), no matter how shallow and materialistic the people are...the decadence is just stunning! I'd then want to leave again before the stock market crash in 1929...

The characters in this book are largely unlikeable, yes, but Jay Gatsby is now one of my favourite ever characters in literature - and no, it's not because my love Leonardo DiCaprio played him in the movie - it's because he is such a heartbreakingly tragic character. He's mysterious, he's a dreamer, and very quickly we learn that he is trying to recapture the past and most importantly, recreate his previous dalliance with Daisy. But what Gatsby doesn't realise is that you can't repeat the past, which Nick tries to tell him, to which Gatsby replies, "Can't repeat the past?... Why of course you can!"

Gatsby's story is inspiring, he achieved the American Dream, that typical rags-to-riches story, all for the woman he loves. To be able to care for her, to provide for her, to protect her. Then to see her with someone else, a man who is VILE and is constantly unfaithful, must be heartbreaking for Gatsby. Although, let me be clear, in no way do I understand Gatsby's love for Daisy, she is a shallow, selfish, self-centred hateful character. But love is blind and you can't question his devotion to her, it's merely a situation where Gatsby is more in love with the idea of Daisy, than Daisy herself. Gatsby is living in a dream world, caught up in the fantasy of Daisy.

Okay, enough about Gatsby... time to talk about the other characters. Daisy is vile, Tom is vile, Nick is quite bland, Jordan was interesting. During our buddy read, Abbie and I both discussed how we always see so much hatred for Daisy, but not nearly enough for Tom? A horrible man. Gatsby steals the show basically!

I can't review The Great Gatsby without commending the absolutely stunning and beautiful writing that Fitzgerald produces. Numerous times I just had to pause and absorb the wonderful prose. This has definitely made me want to read more Fitzgerald books. I could quite literally talk about The Great Gatsby for hours...but no one wants to read an essay on my thoughts! Clearly I give this book 5 stars out of 5. So I'll end with one of the most beautiful parts I read in this book...

"If that was true he must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream. He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass. A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about... like that ashen, fantastic figure gliding toward him through the amorphous trees."



  1. The Great Gatsby? Sounds more like the Great Friendzone......

  2. The thing about the Great Gatsby, is that like you said, Gatsby is such a tragic character, and we empathize with him because in all his facade and grandeur, his wish is a simple, yet hopeless one: to hold on to the love of his life. As a hopeless romantic myself, it is especially painful to see him fight so hard, just to lose it all in the end. And I think that the real pain we feel to see Gatsby lose to such abhorrent characters, when his own goal was such an honest and pure one, makes us realise the true magic of Fitzgerald's writing. It is painful irony, beautifully written. I love this book.


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