It’s the characters that make this story. The narrator, Nick, is fairly plain and uninteresting, but the people around him are such complex, intriguing and entertaining characters that I loved this book from beginning to end.
The story follows the life of the rich on Long Island in the 1920s. They invite themselves to parties, they complain about the heat and are utterly unhappy in their marriages. It’s the perfect recipe for an engaging story where the characters drive the plot, not the other way round.
So how did F. Scott Fitzgerald do it? For one, he always showed and never told. The characters’ emotions, drivers and passions are shown through their actions and narrative. We rarely step into the mind of the main character Nick, he just says it as it is. And I love that style of writing.
It seems real. It makes you feel like you’re there watching the events unfold. You are free to make your own judgments on the characters. And, as flawed as the characters are, you can’t help but love them. They are simply passionate people who make poor decisions.
Fitzgerald’s writing made the characters feel like old friends. I laughed at the characters’ quirks, I was saddened by their tragedies and I felt excitement from their short-lived love affairs.
And the ending was satisfying. It was believable and climatic and everything an ending should be.
Thank you Fitzgerald for restoring my faith in the 100 book list. Now onto book number 14!
In July 2014 I set myself the challenge to finish 100 must-read books before I die. For my ongoing tally click here.