Book Review: The Great Gatsby

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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.

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