“In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.”
Well, I do love a book set in the 20's, and Gatsby doesn't let me down. I first read this book a few years ago, I think I ordered it online when I first got into that genre and this and Fiesta have been two of my absolute favourites. Set during the prohibition era of the "Roaring Twenties" this book is like a glamorous look back to the past. The writing is so beautifully descriptive that I get a wonderful sense of the atmosphere - probably one of the most delightfully descriptive books I've ever read.
We are led through the story by narrator Nick Carraway, a college graduate and war vet. who has recently moved to New York to begin a career. His house sits next to an extravagant mansion, from which a constant stream of luxurious parties erupt. Nick is new to the "scene" and begins to spend time with his cousin Daisy Buchanan, who lives on the better side of town with her husband and baby girl. After a few weeks Nick is issued an invite to one of the parties in the mansion - to which he takes Daisy's friend Jordan. At the party Nick meets with mysterious Jay Gatsby - the owner of the house and the thrower of the party. He is a curious sort of fellow - he does not even really attend the parties himself - or know many of the guests, and his personality begins to intrigue Nick.
"I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others--young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life."
As Nick is getting to know Gatsby and begin a romance with Jordan, he is also spending time with Daisy and her husband Tom, who is having an affair with a married woman. Nick moves in all of these rather different circles as more of an observer than an attendee, he sits drinking tea with Daisy as she discusses her woes, he goes to parties thrown by Tom's extravagant mistress...but his own real involvement in the story and their lives doesn't come till Gatsby tells him a secret which will pull the circles of his life together and involve him in an integral role for two of his friends happiness.
In a nutshell, The Great Gatsby is all glamour, parties, frivolity, passion, fickle love and bad decisions. Though Nick seems to be a lesser character in the thick of the novel, by the end we realise the flaws in the main protagonists, and the strengths in Nicks.
"He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass. A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about...like that ashen, fantastic figure gliding toward him through the amorphous trees."
|Luhrmann's Gatsby is released on 19/12|
The book is a satire on the bourgeois culture and the frailty of the American Dream, with the heavy moral "The grass is always greener." But it is also a love story, the depth of which alters depending on which characters eyes you are looking at it through - desperate and consuming compared to wistful and fickle. It's so interesting to be able to see so many different takes on one story through just one character.
"No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart."
The book has been adapted into film before but this December will come to cinema in 3D by director Baz Luhrmann, which personally I think is going to be wonderful - who better that a theatrical like Luhrmann to exaggerate the splendour of Gatsby's world? The trailer looks absolutely phenomenal, you can watch it here.