Trigger Warning: This novel and it’s review contain descriptions of and mention the following topics: physical abuse, relationships, alcoholism, shooting, murder, death.
Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
Year Published: 1925
When you think of the 1920’s, it’s hard not to envision the world of Gatsby that Fitzgerald created in one of his most iconic novels. After all, Fitzgerald modeled some of that grandeur and drama after his own life (which you read about in Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda).
The novel is written through the eyes of Nick Carraway, who observes and helps unravel the relationship between his cousin, Daisy Buchanan, and Jay Gatsby, his extravagant neighbor. Nick has rented a West Egg cottage next door to Gatsby, and helps describe his allure- Gatsby’s mansion, his lavish parties, the throngs of people that surround him, his seemingly endless supply of money.
Across the sound in East Egg, Nick visits with Daisy, her new husband Tom, and their friend Jordan Baker. Daisy and Tom also live a lavish, privileged life, and Jordan has made her own stand in the upper crust as a professional golfer. While visiting, Nick notices that Gatsby’s mansion is directly across from the Buchanan’s, with a little green light beacon- and at that moment, catches the outline of Gatsby himself. This is the first bit of foreshadowing that the reader should note- the importance of that little green light.
“If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay . . . You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock.”
As the story continues, Nick is invited to the city with Tom for some outlandish partying at Tom’s mistress’ house, where he meets Myrtle Wilson- the mistress. She’s a less-than-classy broad, and by the end of the party, drunken Myrtle and Tom have an argument about Daisy. Myrtle wants to be with Tom, so therefore she wants him to leave Daisy. However, Tom loves the status of his marriage and refuses, furious, and takes a swing at Myrtle, breaking her nose. This is the second piece of foreshadowing for the reader- noting Tom’s destructive behavior.
Finally, as the summer continues, Nick is invited to one of Gatsby’s parties- a rarity, as most people just show up rather than get an invitation. There, he finally meets Gatsby face to face and learns that he’s a rather nice guy who has built his life up from nothing, and as he gets to know him more personally, finds that though he is often surrounded by people with all he could ever want, he is lonesome for the company of a special someone. At the same party, Jordan also appears, and Gatsby reveals to her, who then reveals to Nick, the truth behind his intentions of glamour- he’s in love with Daisy.
From here, Fitzgerald takes these characters AND readers on a roller coaster of emotions while the love triangles between Tom-Daisy-Gatsby and Myrtle-Tom-Daisy are played out- turbulent, hopeless romance, and full of dramatics. Additionally, Fitzgerald transports the reader into the era of speakeasies, jazz joints, flappers, organized crime, old and new money, frivolity. Utilizing foreshadowing and symbolism, the plot converges with such force at the end of the novel that I remember gasping in shock.
What Makes it a Classic?
Not only is the subject matter a timeless piece of romance, social commentary, and historical imagery, but Fitzgerald captivated his readership with his shockingly traumatic novel. Since it’s publication, it’s been a staple for many to dissect and discuss, with those discussions evolving into modern times. Nick’s sexuality and relationship with Gatsby, Gatsby’s racial background, and Daisy’s gold-digging reputation have all been inspected, tumbled around, and rethought as readers attempt to figure out the intentional(?) missing details from Fitzgerald’s prose. This kind of fascination with the novel has allowed it to remain on the top of the classics list over the past (almost) century.
TL/DR: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a classic 1920’s novel about the hopeless love affair of Daisy and Gatsby, and the decline of the roaring 1920’s frivolity.
Read it? Yes, if you haven’t already read this in high school, they you should definitely give this a read.
Recommend it? YES.
Buy it? YES!!!
Watch the movie? YES. Leo Dicaprio as Gatsby is CLASSIC. There’s also an older version of the movie, which is just as good, but the latest movie went over the top with the party scenes and the soundtrack.
If you liked this novel or review, check out these similar reads:
- Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda by F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald