The Great Gatsby (1925) by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a gorgeously written portrayal of the 1920s in particular the jazz era and partying in the affluent circles.
The book is set in a fictional village called West Egg in Long Island, New York. Nick Carraway, who has recently graduated from Yale, moves in beside his new neighbor Jay Gatsby who lives in a mansion. Jay holds a lot of parties. One night Nick who is the book’s narrator, is asked to his first party. He begins to hear all the gossip like Jay is in love Daisy Buchanan who is Nick’s cousin. She is married to Tom Buchanan who for so many reasons I could not stand.
The book turns from glitz and glam to horror after Jay reportedly knocks down and kills Tom’s mistress Mrytle Wilson but it is later revealed that Daisy was the one driving. I don’t want to give away the ending but gossip and manipulation has a lot to do with the ending and it also showed that the strength of the friendships towards Jay did not extend beyond the party atmosphere for a lot of the people who attended which is sadly often true in life.
It has a certain fluffiness to it. A lot of it is quite light-hearted and a fun journey. But then it takes a darker turn and in a metaphoric way the party is over and their lives in this party world are in the past and it feels that what Nick has captured is a snapshot of their lives which maybe will be discussed by some of them over a dinner table in years to come. So it sort of has that sad, nostalgic feel as well.
Nick is my favourite character. I know that a lot of peoples’ favourite character is either Jay or Daisy but I personally liked Nick the best. Because the book is told from his POV, you get a good insight into his character and I found he was nice, loyal and had a good heart. I was happy the book was from his POV. I think part of the reason I liked Nick too is that to an extent Nick is a bit of a spectator in this world and isn’t as major a player in all the politics at play in the lives of the other central characters. He’s kind of like that friend you go to for all the gossip. And it was clever of Fitzgerald to write him this way because it’s a world unfamiliar to a lot of people. It’s a world of lavish parties I’d know about through celebrities or Brideshead Revisited or something but not from a personal perspective so as a reader you kind of feel comfortable hearing what is going on from someone who is in this world but not totally in it either if that makes sense.
I think it is written gorgeously. It’s a reasonably short read but Fitzgerald packs everything that is needed into it.
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