I first read F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby when I was 17. I know it’s corny to say that a book changed my life, but that’s what happened…
The Great Gatsby opened up a whole new world of literature for me, the world of Salinger and Kerouac and Woolfe. Fiction in the 1920s was tired of being a certain thing and telling the same tired old stories.
Fiction in the 1920s challenged people to get back up after the shock that was World War I, to brush themselves off, and start seeing the world as a beautiful and sad and joyous place again.
I love the poetry of the language, Nick Carraway’s intense floral descriptions of every mint julep and ray of sunshine. I love the slightly off-centre perspective, the way it’s a novel about one person but told by another who, for all intents and purposes, just happens to be there.
I love that whenever the weather is hot and sticky and I just want to wilt under the weight of the humid air, I think of the beginning of the end of The Great Gatsby, when it all came out and everything began to fall apart. I love that every time I hear the name of this fabulous novel, I can’t help but smile.
Lengthy proclamations of love aside, F Scott Fitzgerald‘s The Great Gatsby is an iconic piece of American fiction.
It was written over five a three-year period while Fitzgerald, along with his wife Zelda and their young daughter Frances Scott Fitzgerald aka “Scottie”, lived in Massachusetts and the French Riviera, and is considered to be the quintessential representation of the Jazz Age, much as Scott and Zelda were themselves iconic of the era even while they were alive.
The Great Gatsby tells the story of one hot summer in the early 1920s. Nick Carraway moves to New York to sell bonds, and lives in a little house on a small promontory called West Egg (thought to be Great Neck/King’s Point on Long Island, New York).
Throughout that hot summer, Nick gets to know his new neighbours and friends in nearby and more affulent East Egg (thought to be Sands Point): his cousin Daisy and her husband Tom; Tom’s mistress Myrtle and her husband Wilson; Daisy’s jaunty friend Jordan, who plays golf professionally; and Nick’s neighbour Jay Gatsby, who lives in an enormous house, throws wild parties every weekend, and who reaches out to the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock when he thinks no-one is looking.
The Great Gatsby is a great novel. It is beautiful and joyful and curious and sad. Whether you’re looking forward to Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming adaptation, love Mia Farrow as Daisy in Jack Clayton’s 1974 version or just love a good piece of fiction, I strongly recommend that you give F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby a try.
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- Historical style: Downton Abbey
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- SHOPPING: Funtasma by Pleaser Women’s Contessa 1920s-style shoes
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- LUST-HAVE: Elie Saab vintage-inspired clutch bags
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