Please take a moment to review Hachette Book Group's updated Privacy Policy: read the updated policy here.

Friday Reads: The Great Gatsby

The Great GtsbyIt’s the talk of the town… we’re a little late to the game, but The Great Gatsby is still the literary-classic-turned-Baz-Luhrmann-movie du jour, we reckon. So in honour of Fitzgerald, Luhrmann and all that is glittering, Becca and Hannah have shared their thoughts on the novel here.  

Hannah

Becca has been bouncing around the office exclaiming ‘I just love Gatsby!’ and threatening to maim Carey Mulligan to be the new Daisy for the last few weeks, writing impassioned reviews for our sister blog and having to be discouraged from coming to work in a sequined flapper dress. So, when the boss gave me a copy of The Great Gatsby and told me it was definitely in his top three books of all time, ever, I thought: alright, maybe let’s give this Fitzgerald kid a shot.

That was three weeks ago. I’m still only halfway through, and as you might be aware it is one of literature’s shorter tomes. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve not had a chance to read much lately (what with being so popular and all) or if it’s just that I just cannot get swept away in it. I find Carraway to be a bit of a bore, and so far, Daisy to be what I dislike in most whimsical, overly-dramatic lady characters of the past. It can appreciate it’s a great work, the writing is wonderful and Gatsby is very intriguing, but it just doesn’t make me want to stay up into the early hours finishing it. I’m also not convinced by the love story. It is possible that is a product of having all romantic notions bludgeoned out of me by the London dating pool, but my cold heart has melted at other classics, ones in which you just couldn’t fail to swept away in a great love story. I’m just not convinced this is one of them. I am determined to finish though, and I refuse to see the movie until I do (wait for me, Leo) but truth be told, it will take some will. That said, I have enjoyed calling people ‘old sport’, so at least I have Fitzgerald to thank for now being even more annoying than I used to be.

Becca

‘Tis true, I have indeed been bouncing about the place proclaiming my love for Gatsby to anyone who wants to know and of course to some of those who don’t. If Fitzgerald was still alive I should have been his publicist, I would have made those flappers and Wall Street bankers truly appreciate this literary masterpiece.

Perhaps what I love most about The Great Gatsby is its compact neatness. Fitzgerald’s sparse and selective but ingenious use of language makes for a refined and highly polished novel, yet somehow the story still bursts at the seams with detail and wonder, embellished with glamour and extravagance. Within the limited pages and charming simplicity, Fitzgerald constructs a delectable world, punctuated with characters that remain in your mind long after you’ve read the last remarkable line; refusing to retreat into your reading past. The most intriguing and infuriating characters I’ve ever encountered; selfish, flawed and deluded but delicious.

After reading and watching The Great Gatsby twice and purchasing the deluxe edition of the soundtrack, it’s bordering on (if it hasn’t already reached) obsession.

And it is Mr Jay Gatsby, the epicentre of the novel, the great-party-thrower with his recurrent utterings of ‘old sport’ and intense delusional hope that is the root of this obsession. This passionate, determined and incredibly hopeful character is the most intriguing of them all. I was so swept up in Gatsby’s pain, angst and determination that I wanted to jump into the book, swim across the bay and douse that green light out (how he can get any sleep with that thing blinking away at all hours is beyond me). Because Daisy isn’t worth dying for. I haven’t been this emotionally invested in a text since Emma Donoghue’s chilling ROOM.

Fitzgerald makes the 1920s appear so alluring and seductive, his description enchanting and hypnotising. The Great Gatsby is a delectable and incredibly moreish text, my Gatsby craving a daily battle. I’ll never fully understand why everyone isn’t as wax lyrical about this classic novel as I am, but I shall find solace in this old chestnut;

One man’s meat is another man’s poison.

Each to their own and all that (1920s) jazz.