After reading Keith’s review of The Great Gatsby, I decided to read the book prior to watching the film. He is one of the few that read the book and then watched the movie, and wrote a very good review. After that my interest was piqued, I need to be prepared. Best way? Start with the book, progress to the film (hopefully tonight or tomorrow night). In any event, this is my thirteenth book in my challenge.
Nick Carraway is a World War I veteran who moves to West Egg to be a bond salesman after attending Yale. He is barely making it, though he lives in a well-to-do neighbourhood, but he is the neighbour of the the most interesting millionaire, shrouded in eternal mystery: Jay Gatsby. Known for his elaborate and lavish parties, Jay Gatsby is the talk of the town, what with the wild parties every other night. Nick tells the story of the summer of 1922, and a story takes shape.
Nick knows nobody in the Long Island area save his cousin Daisy Buchanan and her husband, Tom. When he attends a dinner there, he meets Jordan Baker, a friend of Daisy’s. They get along and enter into a relationship. Nick finds out that Tom has a mistress, a married woman named Myrtle Wilson, and has the misfortune of being involved in a party where he meets her. As the extravagant parties continue next door, Nick eventually meets Jay Gatsby, and soon they are very good friends – or as good as you can be with someone you know nothing of. Gatsby’s guests are not all invited, but a steady influx of people who will take advantage of any situation. Nobody (invited or not) knows much about the man, where his fortune comes from or what he does, and more often than not they have viscous and dark explanations as to his wealth.
Gatsby confides in Nick his love for Daisy, and that he wishes to meet with her. Jordan fills Nick in on how Gatsby and Daisy were in love long before she met Tom and married. In 1917 they had a romantic relationship. Gatsby has redefined himself as a person and a perception, even purchasing a house across from the bay from her. He is sure that their love is eternal, and that he can convince her to leave her husband, Tom, to start a life with him. He is positive that they can rekindle their romance and that he is able to give her anything and everything her life desires. Nick gets involved with reuniting them, though what happens after that he will have no control over. The awkward reunion turns warm, and soon Gatsby and Daisy spend inordinate amounts of time in each others company, until Tom soon starts suspecting that something is going on that he is not privy to, and the knowledge of his wife’s infidelity angers him greatly.
Soon confrontations abound, accusations are thrown wild, nerves are lost and shady pasts are dredged up. Irrevocable mistakes are made, and love and delusion give rise to decisions being made. Will Daisy and Gatsby rise up, will Gatsby’s driving dream become his reality?
The style of writing was gorgeous, and the prose beautiful and flowing. The language usage was decadent and superb, painting a picture of the times as well as the events that shaped the story, it really made this book one of the most beautifully written things that I have ever read. The further I read into this book, the more I wished that it had been a set book for me at some point in my academic career, that I could take a more in depth and detailed look into it. However, that will be my mission on my own as I continue. I kept having to remind myself that this book was written in a time where a man screwing around was acceptable, but women did not have such freedom. Gatsby was a fantastical creation, and the book is truly wonderful.
It was truly heartbreaking to see Gatsby was ultimately alone, that nobody came for him, that nobody stood by him. His father felt pride, because evidently Gatsby had achieved what he set out to do. His need to protect his love eventually led to his death and demise. Daisy was shallow, and he was caught up in the dream that he could have it all. He reinvented himself for her, not only himself.