Mini Review; The Great Gatsby

  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is often considered a true American classic, and for good reason- it captures perfectly the ambience and feeling of the 1920s Jazz Age of America.

The novel begins with a long speech by Nick Carraway, the narrator, telling us about the way he lives his life and his recent move to a small home near New York. While not the most engaging of starts, it is worth reading to reach the more fast-paced action.

Gatsby, a character constantly shrouded in mystery, is introduced, and we learn that he is in love with Daisy, a shallow, beautiful girl he knew he was young, and who is now married to his neighbour. Most of the novel surrounds Gatsby’s love for Daisy, and whether it can ever really work.

There are many problems for the characters to face, and Fitzgerald focuses largely on their feelings and thoughts as the story progresses. It is these deep explorations of thoughts and dreams which make the novel what it is, so it may not be for the reader who prefers constant action.

That being said, there is enough action in The Great Gatsby to keep things interesting. Adultery, drunken parties, smuggling illegal alcohol, car crashes; the dark side of the Roaring Twenties provides plenty of interest for this story. 

Be warned, the ending is a little frustrating. There is no clean cut “the good end happily, and the bad unhappily” type of conclusion, so brave yourself to face a stark reality. 

Definitely worthy of its reputation, The Great Gatsby is a wonderful read, provided you don’t mind the fact that it may disillusion you as to the romance of life for the rich and famous of 1920s America.

A Mini Review; Enduring Love

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The first of (hopefully) many very brief book reviews.

McEwan is often a ‘love or hate’ author. His style can be described as fluent and poetic, or fussy and pretentious. Enduring Love is possibly one of the best examples of his style, controversial as it is.

The novel begins with a balloon accident, which unites two of the main characters, Joe Rose and Jed Parry. This opening is somewhat difficult to read as it jumps around many times, in order to include as much detail as possible. None the less it is very well crafted and fairly promising.

For me, this opening is the best part of the novel, but it is mostly downhill from there. Jed begins to stalk Joe, and Joe struggles with being able to tell others about his problem. Since the book is mostly an exploration of psychological doubts, theories and ideas, there is little action, which is not in of itself a bad thing. However, in order not to bore the reader, most psychological thrillers have some form of plot movement, and this is where McEwan can be said to fail.

Jed continually stalks Joe, and his actions become progressively more radical, while no one seems to believe Joe about what is happening, dismissing his concerns as paranoia. Even the reader sometimes doubts the truth of the narrative, which hints at a twist of some kind- has Joe really misunderstood Jed’s behaviour? Is Jed even real?

The novel in fact concludes with Joe simply being proved right; Jed is stalking him, and is dangerous. Despite constant hints at a dramatic ending, the story has no real peak or movement, and this makes it somewhat disappointing at its conclusion.

I would recommend reading this book, just to appreciate the meticulous knowledge and exploration. However, do not expect action or excitement, or you will end up disappointed!