You’ve likely heard of The Great Gatsby – either from the classic novel itself or the famous Leonardo Di Caprio film. The classic novel is quite clearly the more famous of the two among book lovers. Why this was piqued my interest and is the reason I picked it up.
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With classic novels that you’ve heard of but aren’t sure why there’s a certain element of “why is this so famous?” Reading (well mostly listening) The Great Gatsby, at first I struggled with the why a lot. However, as I continued to immerse myself in the writing and the tale, I began to realise why this book is loved so much. The way it’s written and the tragic tale it tells.
Plot – 4/5
The Great Gatsby follows not Jay Gatsby himself but his lowly neighbour Nick Carroway. Mr Carroway has heard of Gatsby through rumours around town. He hosts a lot of parties and everyone seems to have been to one. One night, Nick Carroway is invited to one of Gatsby’s parties and gets to know the man himself and what ensues will change Nick Carroway’s life significantly.
Throughout the next 100+ pages (yes it’s a short book) F Scott Fitzgerald tells the tale of a man whose legend far outweighs his manner. Gatsby has fought in a war, he’s studied at Oxford and has quite the many stories to tell. However, this tale tells of how none of this means anything when it all comes down to it. The Great Gatsby is a man like everyone, he’s flawed, he’s chasing a woman and he’s deeply lonely despite having a large house, lots of money, and large parties.
The plot itself is slow. This novel was written in 1925, a time before authors cared more plot and cared more about how their book was written. However, Fitzgerald tells a sad tale and one that does keep you interested throughout.
Characters – 4/5
Despite being “Great”, Gatsby himself is quite the dull character. In all, most of the characters in the novel are quite dull. Again, I would argue this is a sign of the times the book was written. These days there’s so much more emphasis on building deeper characters and twisting plots. However, their personalities were all succinct and defined.
The supporting cast threw in some humour and some drama with Tom Buchanan being one of the bigger personalities with his confrontation towards Gatsby and his constant questions. This is a book that’s a mix of plot and characters, however, I feel the telling of the stories of the characters is the main role this book serves and it does an OK job at this.
Summary – 4/5
The Great Gatsby has been studied in American schools for decades, it’s been performed in stage plays and been made into movies, and is still widely considered one of the greatest forms of American literature. There’s no doubt I can see why. However, for the type of book I like to read, it just didn’t press all my buttons.
Don’t get me wrong, this book is wonderfully written, in fact, it’s an absolute joy to read and listen to simply for its prose. However, I love a good plot and I love a good set of deep characters with real personalities and unfortunately, I didn’t get that here. SO just a four from me. Feel free to disagree or agree in the comments below!