The Great Gatsby: A Review

Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Genre: Fiction, Modern Classic, American Fiction
First Published: 1925
Pages: 115

Nick Carraway is introduced to the glittering world of Jay Gatsby, his neighbour. But beneath all of the extravagance, Gatsby has a secret.

After the war, Nick Carraway decides to ‘go east,’ and move away from the Midwest to the exciting and extravagant world of Long Island, New York. He settles near to his cousin Daisy, and her husband. Set in the ‘roaring twenties’, a period of economic expansion, the novel is host to numerous dazzling parties with hundreds of well-dressed guests. When Carraway receives an invitation to one of his neighbour’s infamous parties, he is eager to discover more of the man he has never met. The rogue host whom the guests think, “has killed a man,” is completely unlike Carraway’s expectations.

Carraway and Gatsby soon become friends and spend many hours together. However, before long, Gatsby has a confession to make, and soon Carraway is forced to reassess his judgement. When Gatsby’s confession leads to a tragedy, Gatsby has to put his life on the line to protect those that he loves, and ultimately discovers who his real friends are.

I have had a difficult time making my mind up about this book. I tried reading it a few years ago but gave up after a few pages. When I picked it up again this time I had a similar problem. Even though it is just over a hundred pages long, it felt like hard work reading it, simply because the plot lacked any action. Nothing really happens until the end of the book, making it difficult to get involved and enjoy reading it.

What I liked about the book, however, was the language that Fitzgerald used. The witty and, at times, cynical tone that he presents is humorous and thought-provoking. The description he uses is beautifully written and engaging, but, due to the lack of excitement in the plot, this book really wasn’t one for me.

Favourite Quote: ‘A tray of cocktails floated at us through the twilight, and we sat down at a table with the two girls in yellow and three men, each one introduced to us as Mr Mumble.’ (p. 28)

Rating: 3/10

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‘Enduring Love’ by Ian McEwan – A Love Story Like No Other

Author: Ian McEwan

Genre: Fiction

First Published: 1997

Pages: 231

 

After witnessing a freak hot air balloon accident, Joe Rose never imagined his life would become haunted by another witness who becomes obsessed with him. 

Joe Rose was enjoying a picnic with his long-term girlfriend Clarissa when the disaster happened. Racing to help a man wrestling with a hot air balloon with his terrified grandson inside, Joe cannot guess of the fatal catastrophe soon to follow. But the death of an innocent man is only the beginning. When Joe watched the death of John Logan, he never imagined that the man standing next to him, Jed Parry, was about to ruin his orderly life forever.

The evening after the accident Parry phones Joe and proclaims his love for him. Thinking nothing of it, Joe hangs up and pushes the call to the back of his mind. Parry, however, becomes more and more determined and begins constantly phoning, writing to and stalking Joe. Joe finds himself becoming more and more unnerved by Parry’s bizarre and obsessive behaviour, but with the police and even his girlfriend unable to believe him, even the reader begins to doubt the truth in Joe’s tale. Just as you begin to doubt Joe’s sanity, a close call between life and death hints that Parry’s love may just turn deadly. Fearing for his life, Joe invests in some protection of an illegal nature, but shortly after, he discovers that his life is not the one that hangs in the balance.

McEwan has a fantastic ability to build pace, which he flaunts in the very first chapter in the novel. He controls time effortlessly, making it speed up or slow down seamlessly, which hints at what might be coming. Deviations between random thoughts, observations and drifts of everyday conversation ensure you that something dangerous is lurking just out of sight, and really draws you in to the story. As you start to doubt Joe’s sanity you become convinced that you have already figured out McEwan’s ending, which then twists suddenly and unexpectedly, making the story even more gripping. McEwan’s way with words really compels you to read on due to the sheer beauty of the phrases and observations. A love story that almost brushes with tragedy, this novel is unlike any other. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone out there who wants to try something new.

Favourite quote: ‘This was the moment, this was the pinprick on the time map: I was stretching out my hand, and as the cool neck and the black foil touched my palm, we heard a man’s shout.’

Rating: 8/10