Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Here is a summary of the book from the Goodreads website:

In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write "something new--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned." That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald's finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author's generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald's--and his country's--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning--" Gatsby's rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.

It's also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby's quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means--and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. "Her voice is full of money," Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel's more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy's patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout. Spare, elegantly plotted, and written in crystalline prose, The Great Gatsby is as perfectly satisfying as the best kind of poem.

My Review: 
Since the latest version of The Great Gatsby will hopefully be coming out on dvd soon, I decided it was time for me to finally read this classic novel.  I'm sure many of you have already read this gem, but if you haven't I suggest that you do.

Nick is actually the narrator of the novel and we see events unfold before his eyes.  We watch as the mysterious Gatsby moves into a spectacular mansion next to Nick's average home.  Nick couldn't predict the events that would take place once he walks through Gatsby's front door to attend one of his famous late-night parties.  

As we follow Nick and his circle of friends throughout Long Island, it is interesting to learn the fronts that his acquaintances put on.  He learns that married couples really are not in love with each other, but are really having secret affairs with others within their own circle.  He is even more surprised to learn that everything Gatsby himself has done, is all to catch the attention and love of a woman.

This was a beautiful story trying to underscore the greediness of the human heart.  Even when we have it all, many of us still are not happy so find ourselves pursuing dreams that are out of our grasp.  With themes of love, deception, and friendship I don't hesitate in recommending this novel for personal leisure or as a book club discussion.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  I borrowed this book from a friend to read for my own entertainment. 


Ti said...

I've read this one twice and I enjoyed it quite a bit more the second time around.

I read it right before they advertised a Christmas movie release...and then they pushed it back which ruined the timing for me.

Serena said...

I enjoyed reading this, but I thought there would have been something more scandalous...I felt that the novel could have been a bit longer.

I read this before I read the Fitzgerald-inspired The Great Lenore by Tohline

bermudaonion said...

I haven't read this since high school and am sure I'd take something totally different from it if I reread it.

carol said...

My daughter and mom saw the movie at the theater, and loved it, but based on what they said I don't think it's one I want to watch or read.

Anonymous said...

I listened to this one about 15 years ago and was uninspired. I wonder if I would feel differently now.