This novel I read about a year ago and it has been on my mind ever since. In fairness it’s been pretty hard to escape it whether you’re a fan or not with Leo on the side of buses and the trailer repeating on TV. I’m not afraid to admit it though; I am a massive fan of the book.
Having seen the old film with Robert Redford and the new film I believe they both offer such different things. The old film captures the subtlety and sophistication in the novel but Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation goes all out and fully depicts the craze and vibrancy of the era. No matter what you thought when you finished the book, I think it’s important to appreciate both films in their own way as they differ such a lot.
The Great Gatsby, by F Scott Fitzgerald is set in the roaring 20s when a young man, Nick Carraway, decides to try his hand at the bond business and moves to West Egg, just outside New York. His cousin Daisy and her husband Tom Buchanan live just across the bay, in fact he can see a blinking green light at the end of her dock from the end of his garden and from his neighbour’s also. After going round to Daisy for dinner, where he is introduced to female golfer Jordan Baker, it soon becomes apparent that Tom is having an affair.
A few days later Nick is introduced to Myrtle at the garage where her husband works. She gets on a train and meets them at Tom’s apartment in the city. A typical 20s house party takes place and Nick finds himself very drunk. The evening ends in Myrtle being punched in the nose by Tom. Things didn’t exactly go to plan.
Days later Nick receives an invite to one of his neighbour’s parties. The thing is, people aren’t invited to Gatsby’s parties. They just arrive. They are filled with the colours and vibrancy of a man with a lot of wealth and no cares for the prohibition of alcohol. They’re daring and raucous and usually end in the early hours of the morning, though stragglers have been known to linger for days! Gatsby introduces himself to Nick at his party and they immediately hit it off. It seems Jordan Baker knows Gatsby as well and he asks a favour of her. She is to ask Nick to invite Daisy for tea. It seems a small favour until Nick discovers that Gatsby and she have history and Gatsby wishes to bridge the gap of the last 5 years.
From this point on the novel is a whirlwind of love and passion, romance and quarrels which eventually ends in tragedy.
The real flame in this novel is the gorgeously poetic writing and the depths of the characters. Daisy is superficial and shallow, yet has the most interesting outbursts of world-weary knowledge, such as when she is explaining to Nick that she hopes her daughter will be ‘a fool–that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.’ She is feminine and often connoted with the colour white and flowers. Gatsby on the other hand, is left mysterious and intriguing. He has this great ability for optimism and seems to believe that the past can be relived.
I love the characters in this novel and the poetic writing style and the way it builds to an unpredictable and climatic ending. It also has such moral messages and sad thoughts throughout it for a novel set in a time when everybody seemed careless. In fact, no-one was careless at all. Except perhaps Daisy…