I read this book on the recommendation of Zoë, who was really impressed with it. I am so glad I gave it a try. Not only did it pull me out of my reading slump, it was an easy, enjoyable read in superb English.
The Narrartor of the book, Nick Carraway, tells the story about the tragic life of mysterious billionaire Jay Gatsby. Gatsby, his neighbor, throws lavish parties where everyone in town is welcome. He sends a special invitation to Nick to attend and Nick is immediately impressed by the mysterious man. Nick realizes that Jay is obsessed with having a reunion with his one true love Daisy Buchanan. Daisy, a society queen, is Nick’s cousin and is married to Tom Buchanan, a rich, obnoxious man. Five years previous to the book’s events, Jay and Daisy had a romantic relationship before he went to war. When Jay was unable to return as early as promised, she married Tom out of desperation and loneliness.
Five years later Daisy is unhappy in her marriage. Tom constantly cheats on her and his current mistress Myrtle Wilson is a married woman whose husband is oblivious to her extracurricular activities. Gatsby moves into a mansion close to hers, but never makes contact with her until he learns that Nick Carraway can arrange a meeting between the two. Their love is reignited, and it is sweet, but there are too many things happening around them to control the drama that develops because of it. What will happen to their relationship once Tom finds out? What will Myrtle’s husband do when he finds out that his wife is cheating?
This book was a feast to read. It manages to be a quick, enjoyable read that stems from a time period of English literature I don’t often enjoy. It is a tragic book and has a sad ending. I found the fact that no one would attend Gatsby’s funeral particularly sad as he had opened his house to partygoers and no one would even return that kindness in death. In the end, Daisy was a disappointment. Eventually she was just as bad as Tom, selfish and despicable and hiding the truth. Seeing the events unfold through Nick Carraway’s eyes distances the reader makes everything much more dramatic – he is there and witnesses everything first hand. He was an innocent bystander in it all, his greatest crime introducing Daisy and Gatsby again. In the end he also lost everyone – the girl he fell for, his friend and his cousin.
While I have sympathy with Nick, I have the most sympathy for Jay Gatsby. Here is a guy, courageous enough to go to war, and comes back to find out that the girl he loved went and married a man essentially for his bank balance. Then he builds a mansion close to her, but never reaches out and still pines after her. In the end he certainly gets the worst end of the deal.
All in all, this is a classic I will read again and will recommend it to people. It isn’t unreadable, and there is now a movie to accompany it. I will hopefully soon see the movie and will also then be able to say if it brings justice to the novel.
Have you read Gatsby? What did you think about it and the movie adaption?