If you did an English A-Level or IB in a British school then most likely you studied Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. If you were particularly daring then maybe you didn’t even read the book properly but obtained the same info on Sparknotes and watched the film starring Leonardo Di Caprio. However, if you did read the book at age 18 or below, then you might have thought it was a great book, a true classic. However, try reading it now, and you’ll find you have a vastly different opinion of it.
Fitzgerald’s prose is beautiful, but the stories are bland. And that’s what I felt having read both Great Gatsby and The Beautiful and Damned. This book gave the reader a glimpse into the New York cafe society of the early 1920s; Anthony Patch the protagonist and socialite heir to a tycoons fortune who marries an equally unlikeable woman Gloria Gilbert. For anyone that’s gone to work in their life will find the characters of this mildly infuriating. The story follows Anthony and Gloria’s journey through alcoholism, partying and pretending to have a purpose in life.
Personally, my problem is not with the idea of two young people having the great fortune to be able to enjoy life without worrying about money or anything else. My irritation was more the sheer lack of acknowledgement of their position. Anthony is on a thinly stretched allowance from his grandfather, and when his grandfather suggests possible employment, Anthony is quick to dismiss it. The story becomes interesting when Anthony is deployed to the army, and the characters evolve into having semblances of a personality. Even then to me, they remain unlikeable throughout the book and not even like those characters that you love to hate.
I didn’t find the story exciting or beautiful, and the love between Anthony and Gloria didn’t even have the alluring interest for the reader that Gatsby and Daisy presented. I think sometimes Fitzgerald’s beautiful writing style overshadows the lack of story within his work. I honestly found the book almost boring and was continuously reading at a faster pace than I usually would. I was interested in reading the reviews on Goodreads, and I might be in the minority of having not enjoyed the book. I would be interested to hear what other people think of Fitzgerald’s writing. Is it just me that views Great Gatbsy different than I did the first time I read it? If anyone is interested in reading the book but doesn’t want to fork out the £9.99 it would cost to buy it in Waterstones, then iBooks has a FREE version available.
Until next time,