Apologies. Apologies. This month’s book bargain is finally here, albeit three days late. Let me assure you, though, you’ll find it was well worth the wait. You know the drill. Pick it up for 10 schweet dollars (!) at The Book Grocer in Northcote and read yourself into oblivion!
Happy new year & happy reading xx
“Later she remembered all the hours of the afternoon as happy – one of those uneventful times that seem at the moment only a link between past and future pleasure but turn out to have been the pleasure itself.”
Tender is Fitzgerald’s writing, however, seldom the night in this purportedly autobiographical account of love, lust, marriage and yearning.
In a savvy show of technique, Fitzgerald begins his novel smack, bang in the middle of the story – though this remains unbeknownst to readers until “Part 2” when they are taken back in time to learn of the characters’ histories. This works well for the novel, baiting readers into a false sense of ownership over the narrative and leading them to believe that the book is about one thing when, really, it’s about a whole other (what these ‘things’ are you’ll have to find out for yourself when you read it).
The novel centres around three characters, all present at the French Riviera in the 1920s: young film star Rosemary Hoyt, psychiatrist Dick Diver and his wife Nicole Diver. Although each of them have their own story to tell, Fitzgerald’s narrative arc relies on how and why these three characters end up in each others’ lives… All are extremely well written and convincing; so much so that I found myself drinking, dining, crying and laughing with them.
The plot of this novel is laden with action. Although I can’t compare it to any of Fitzgerald’s earlier works (The Great Gatsby in particular) as this was my first time reading him, I struggle to imagine a more well written, poetic and lyrical exploration of the ‘stuff’ of relationships and what it means to be an individual in the throes of an era that is making the transition from the ‘Old World’ to modernity; an idea that is embodied beautifully by Dick’s work in the emerging field of psychiatry and Fitzgerald’s choosing to play out his narrative throughout Europe.
Love and sanity are lost and found in this book, relationships built and broken, families created and destroyed. However, the strength – by far – of Fitzgerald’s novel is the flawless style with which he executes his artistic vision.
This book was a delight to experience.