Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Great Gatsby

The Roaring Twenties, Long Island, New York.

The cover of the first edition,
with the face of Daisy Buchanan.
For the wealthy few it's a time of decadence and parties, but one man's parties are more lavish than all the rest. His name is Gatsby.  No-one knows where he's come from, but some say that he killed a man.

I have the Lancashire Ladies to thank for revisiting The Great Gatsby, this month's book group choice.  I'd forgotten how much I like this book.  From the very first paragraph I knew I was in for a good time.

The excesses of the age are described with great flair, the characters are shown to be very human and very flawed.  I can imagine the parties, the fine surroundings, the jazz music and the crassness of Gatsby's guests.  I can imagine the hideous afternoon when Nick meets Tom's mistress.

There's something special about Gatsby and I must confess to be being a little in love with him. He had 'one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced - or seemed to face - the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on YOU with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just so far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.' I can't help thinking that the narrator, Nick Carraway, was a little in love with him too.

I don't want to give the plot away, suffice to say it's a story of love and the failure of the American dream.  Whatever Gatsby may be, he is so much better than the people around him.

I notice that Baz Luhrmann's film of The Great Gatsby due for release in Jan 2013. I can't say I'm tempted.  Although it's shot in 3D, with Leonardo di Caprio as Gatsby, I much prefer to apply my own vivid imagination to a story well told.

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