Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Great Gatsby - Book Review

When I read a book in under a day, it's either because I'm glued to it and refuse to put it down, or it's a short book. In The Great Gatsby's case, it was both. 140 short pages of to-the-point fiction. Fitzgerald writes like I wish I could write, as if he's in a rush to finish. As if he doesn't need the formalities of lengthy description and scene-setting. And it's true, he doesn't.

The Great Gatsby follows the story of Nick Carraway, a man seeking a new life in New York who discovers far more drama than he bargained for. His new neighbour, Jay Gatsby, is a mysterious character, nobody who attends his extravagant parties each week knows anything about him for certain. The grapevine says he's killed a man and that he has strong connections in Germany - but are the whispers true, old sport?

My favourite line is Nick's description of his confusion about Gatsby - 'he had waited five years and bought a mansion where he dispensed starlight to casual moths - so that he could "come over" some afternoon to a stranger's garden.'

Without revealing too much of the plot, I'll say this - I enjoyed every second of reading this. I've held an interest in inter-war literature ever since I read P G Wodehouse's Jeeves series, and Gatsby gives a less optimistic, elaborate and fun-loving image of the roaring twenties. Gatsby reminds the reader that the world is still licking its war wounds, and society is attempting to repair itself in the only way it knows how - through excess, dancing and loud music.

Very few books make me cry, I don't always find words as powerful as movies, but I found myself weeping both at the end of the movie adaptation and, of course, the book. My copy is still damp, which speaks for itself - prepare to have your heartstrings tugged, yanked, and most probably irreparably snapped by The Great Gatsby.

I'm the kind of reader who prefers to see a movie before reading a book, because that way I can read just a little quicker because the descriptions of settings and characters are already built in my mind. I'm a very slow reader because I spend an enormous amount of time hanging on every word, immersing myself in a different world when I'm still only on page 10. With Gatsby, I'm glad I saw the most recent adaptation, as I could already see Leo Dicaprio and Tobey Maguire in my head, so the gaps were filled. I was reading in Leo's voice in my head and it all came together, otherwise the constant 'old sport's would force my imagination to view Gatsby with a '20s upper class English accent.

Of course that isn't always the case with books, some movie adaptations are awfully disconnected from the book, but this year's Great Gatsby movie was near word-for-word accurate to the book, so I don't feel cheated. There was one slight scene omitted, but it was pretty inconsequential anyway.

So if you've already seen the new Gatsby, then make it your mission to read the book this summer, it won't take up too much of your time, and it'll certainly bring each scene of the movie flooding back in all its vibrancy and accuracy - perhaps with less modern music, however.
And if you've read the book but haven't seen the movie, it's out this autumn, so don't be afraid it will ruin your memories of the book, because the direction and production company made a fantastic job of sticking to the book's details.

What do you think of The Great Gatsby?

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1 comment:

  1. I'm with you, I wish I could write the way Fitzgerald does. He the book tells the story using description, more than a native. It's absolutely beautiful!
    Glad you enjoyed it :)

    Char, xo


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