Have you made a New Year’s Resolution to read more? Perhaps you have decided to try some books you have never read before, and see what the classics have to offer. Well, your local Library can help.
Gloucestershire Libraries is sponsoring the Reading Passport scheme. You can pick up a booklet at Bream Library that will guide you through the decades to explore defining authors of the last 100 years. For every book you complete your Librarian will stamp your passport. It’s a great way to keep track of that New Year’s Resolution.
To help you decide what you might like to read we will give a brief review every week of some of the most important authors. This week we go to the 1920’s which saw an economic boom following World War One.
Fitzgerald’s masterpiece is the great American novel of the Jazz Age: a portrait of the the fast set of flappers and sport’s jocks that explores the unattainable ideals of the American dream.
Jay Gatsby is an extravagant millionaire, but hesitant in meeting his neighbours and strangely absent at his lavish parties. His stories about how he got his wealth, and his heroic World War One service are so implausible that his acquaintances don’t know what to think of him. For the narrator, Nick Carraway he is an intriguing mystery. For Nick’s friend Tom, Gatsby is an irritation, and for Tom’s lonely wife, Daisy, a strangely re-invented figure from her past.
Fitzgerald is a great economical stylist who can define character, mood and place with just a few well chosen remarks. The drama of this story is clear and swift, full of unexpected surprises. Though a short novel, it is a book of many moods, moving from breezy cynicism to restless discontent to pointless violence. There are funny and sad scenes, and as the story develops the tone deepens and darkens. The book’s conclusion where Fitzgerald examines Gatsby’s “greatness” is very poignant.
If you enjoy The Great Gatsby and want to try another Fitzgerald novel his 1920 novel “The Side of Paradise” also catches brilliantly the tone of the Jazz Age.