Book Review: The Great Gatsby



Disclaimer: If you haven’t read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but are planning to, and haven’t seen the 2013 film adaptation – STOP READING!

I made the mistake of watching the film adaptation of The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire. I didn’t think that I would read the book, and it was never prescribed reading for me. So, as I read, I didn’t have the opportunity to create my own imagery. I couldn’t imagine what Jay Gatsby looked like, other than picturing Leo. I couldn’t envision Daisy as she was written. I could only see Carey. It’s a shame. It’s one of my favourtie things about reading. The opportunity to create an imaginary world based only on the author’s words. As I was reading, I knew what would happen next. I could see it, in my mind, exactly as it happened in the film. Which leads me to applaud the makers of the film. They kept the film very true to the book. Now I must admit that I really did love the film. It was beautifully made, and well cast. And also, I have long been convinced that I should have lived in the 1920’s. I love everything about it. It was a wonderful film. So I liked the book as well. One quote that stuck to me, which I found very poignant for some reason, was:

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures
and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together
and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

The story in itself is beautifully tragic. Unrequited love, infidelity, lies and loss. It’s about how people who have plenty, often become disconnected to the “real” world, flitting about in their ivory towers. It’s about how people persevere and can make so much of themselves, to a point of delusion, only to be broken down by ill-informed grief-stricken “have-not’s”. While reading it, you cannot help but feel an immediate connection to Gatsby, without knowing why. It might be his abundant generosity, or his charm. I rather think it’s his mysteriousness that’s so intriguing. To give a little away (so stop reading lest you want spoilers), it’s a classic love triangle. Jay loves Daisy. Daisy loves Jay, but is also married. Daisy’s husband is unconcerned with his own marriage, until he finds out someone else is sniffing around his wife. It’s a big hoo-hah, passive aggressive fighting, and an eventual storming off. Tragedy strikes, lies are told to protect others, and suddenly everything has gone to hell.

And as always, true to life, people end up alone in their misery.

My last thought about The Great Gatsby, is this:

Daisy is a bitch.

A Summer Salad To Kick Off The New Year

So… the festive season is well and truly behind us. People are back at work, and everyone is oh-so-motivated to stick to their new Year’s Resolutions… Apart from reading more, restarting my Bachelor’s degree, and the obvious getting in ridiculous shape for the wedding, I don’t really have any other resolutions. We’re just back normal healthy eating (or trying to, at least), and with that in mind, I have a gorgeous Summer Salad for you. I got the recipe from my fiance’s cousin, who is a bit of a foodie too. This salad is such a breeze, and is quite the crowd-pleaser. And look at those colours!

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Roasted Beetroot with Goat’s Cheese Salad

  1. Roast Beetroot, and let cool slightly before peeling. (To roast beets, you wrap your beets in parcels of tinfoil – about three or four per parcel – place on a baking sheet, and roast at 200°C for 45mins)
  2. Blanche fresh green Asparagus and Green Beans (with the ends trimmed off), in boiling salted water for about 15 seconds, and dunk in a bowl filled with ice water immediately. I then let them cool on a plate lined with paper towel.
  3. Chop your cooled beets into bite-sized chunks.
  4. Layer the asparagus and beans on a platter, and top with the beets. The point here is to do it neatly, so the beet juice doesn’t stain everything on the plate. It has to look pretty, you know?!
  5. Sprinkle some chopped cashews and walnuts all over.
  6. Break off little chunks of goat’s cheese and distribute evenly. I used a Honey Goat’s Cheese from Fairview, but you can use whatever you like. I’m sure it will work.

Now you’re done. You can serve this with a vinaigrette too, which is what I did. Here’s how to make it:

In a glass jar with a lid, add the following:

  1. 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  2. 1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  3. 1 tsp mustard (Wholegrain or Dijon)
  4. 1 tsp honey
  5. Salt & Pepper
  6. A tiny squeeze of lemon juice – to taste

Screw the lid on, and shake like crazy. When the dressing is emulsified, you can pour it over the salad, or serve on the side. (Although I prefer to serve it already on the salad)

And voila! Simple, easy and very tasty. The platter was empty after I took it to my mom’s place on Sunday for lunch. Now that’s a successful salad. Below is the salad with the dressing added. Doesn’t that look like health, summer and good intentions? I think so.

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Book Review: Nineteen Eighty-Four

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The fifth book I read from my Summer Reading List was Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. It was first published in 1949, and surprisingly, still very relevant to modern times. As far as the “story” goes, I was so very disappointed. It is well written, and has more than enough drama, intrigue, betrayal and love. But being the eternal optimist reader that I am, I was hoping for a better ending.

The author tells the tale of the plight that the world finds itself in, in 1984. In a nutshell, the world has been divided into three super nations, all run by similar totalitarian states, with the menacing omnipresent dictator (Big Brother) who controls his people through fear, lies, arbitrary violence, phantom enemies, giving the citizens no freedom, physical nor mental. Even their minds are controlled, manipulated and censored. They have no privacy, are constantly being watched, monitored and spied upon. If one dares make a mistake in the opinion of the Thought Police, they would simply disappear from the face of the earth without a trace, and no memory of them remaining. All evidence of their existence would be simply eradicated, as if they were never there. And this is widely accepted by the population without even a second thought. Which is exactly what Big Brother demands of his state. As the book’s protagonist, Winston Smith simply cannot accept this reality. Thoughts of rebellion and defection come to mind, but ultimately, is not in his power. His internal struggle for the truth, for reality, is truly heartbreaking and frightening.

This book still resonates today, with many “shocking” acts commited by the government in the book, being an accepted truth and part of life for us in this day and age. I’d rather not go too deeply into that, but I found a very interesting article explaining these things here.

As a side note, this was the first time I read this book, and I was quite shocked to find that a few of the very popular Young Adult novels in the past couple of years, closely resembles the themes of Nineteen Eighty-Four. Sure, their stories are different, but alas, the general idea is the same.