Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Great Gatsby - March's Centennial Read!

In celebration of our town's Centennial Birthday and good reading across the decades,  the Centennial Book Club is scheduled to meet at 6:00 p.m. in Hotel Tavern to discuss The Great Gatsby by, F.Scott Fitzgerald (popular in 1925).  A film made from the book will be shown in the library's downstairs meeting room at 2:00 p.m. on March 28.   Fitzgerald was inspired to write this story after attending parties in Long Island thrown by friends who lived a decadent lifestyle.  He models the narrator after himself in ways that reflect his own education and Midwest background.  Another comparison can be made, where Fitzgerald had to prove his success to win Zelda just as Gatsby had to with Daisy.  My review is really a character analysis and for those who know the story you may see my point. If you haven't consumed this book yet I hope you will be inspired to read it yourself.

Nick narrates this tale with an admiration for Gatsby, a sympathy for Daisy, a distaste for Tom, while frustrated by Jordan. He expounds on the “greatness” of Gatsby by describing with explicit detail extravagance of Gatsby's lifestyle and outlandish parties thrown to attract the Buchanan crowd. When considering Gatsby's lost love it is easy to feel sympathetic for him as well as Daisy. She was a material girl and may have deserved to live a lonely life with Tom … with objects instead of feelings. But I think as she begins to realize her feelings for Gatsby were on a deeper level, never mind his acquired wealth which definitely made him appealing, she begins to see a future where she might really matter to someone. Who wouldn't fall for the line “I wish I had done everything on earth with you.”

I can see where Nick felt justified being the middleman for Gatsby and Daisy. Once he found out about Tom's mistress and saw how he used her, Nick couldn't expose the affair to Daisy without hurting her. I'm sure he thought that arranging for Gatsby's reunion with Daisy would make it much easier for her when the truth came out. Gatsby was sincere about his love for Daisy.  It was what motivated him to escalate socially over the five years they had been apart. He only wanted to win her back, the money and celebrity status he worked for was all to make her love him, and that is why I think he too deserves some sympathy.

Tom is the most narcissistic character. The way he kept Myrtle and Daisy simultaneously seemed to boost his ego. Knowing Myrtle was married made it easier for him to keep her as a side dish. He didn't want Daisy to know about her of course, but he enjoyed flaunting his mistress's attention.

Then there was Jordan, a confident, independent woman who didn't need a man to make her feel complete. Nick tried, but he couldn't keep up.

Fitzgerald's character-driven story had me intrigued as I analyzed the needs of all and their interactions with each other. I love a story that inspires a character's interior dialogue in my head whether or not  the author actually writes it down. I stayed absorbed in Gatsby's world and grieved for the tragedy I knew would come.

I personally give this book a 5-star rating and look forward to discussing what others think about  it.


  1. Wonderful review of one of my favorite novels. You could argue that Gatsby is the best American novel of the 20th century, and I think that you are correct that the characters really drive the story. Gatsby also has one of my favorite openings in all of literature: "In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. 'Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,' he told me, 'just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.'”

    1. I love that opening line too ... good advice to remember! Aside from the novel, an interesting thing I learned about at the Centennial Book Club discussion was that F. Scott Fitzgerald was named after his uncle, Frances Scott Key, author of our national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner!