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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

We have gathered all the fantastic reviews our Book Club Members have sent us this month.

Click on each name to read the review. If you would like to become part of the Viking Book Club, sign up here >>

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Ruth Mannell

The most enjoyable feature of the book was the use of language, poetic in places and with wonderful choice of words and descriptions. Despite this I always felt like a fly on the wall and never really involved with the characters. It was difficult to empathise with any of them, or like them, and Gatsby himself was hard to understand, always on the edge of proceedings yet the central character. Nick, as the narrator, was rather a disappointment although at least he did his best for Gatsby at the end. The book certainly conveys the emptiness of the lives of the main characters, rather like Gatsby’s house at the end of the novel, full of interesting objects but devoid of purposeful life. While the book is of its time, conveying the shallowness of the affluent society in the 1920s, we have to wonder if it is not equally true of some sections of society today. It is a book that does give the reader plenty to think about.

Pat Myers

I realise that this book was regarded as a classic when it was first published in the 1920's but frankly I did not enjoy it and if not for writing a review I would probably have abandoned it well before halfway.

I had not read this book before and have not seen the film therefore I was not familiar with the story.

Firstly I thought that the introduction was rather rambling and I could not understand what it brought to the book. It was incredibly long and in fact I did give up on reading this after only a couple of dozen pages. The story itself only really got going for me at about the halfway stage. It was written in a style that was not the easiest to follow and left a lot of gaps for the imagination. I felt that the numerous annotations reverenced at the back were an irritation although understandably there were a lot of references to people, places and events that may well have been familiar to a 1920's reader that are not common knowledge today, particularly outside of the States. Sorry but this was not for me.

Jane McPeake

I had never read this book before but it is such a well-known book, I thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong. It is not a long book but it is packed full. It draws you in from the beginning.

The descriptions of the countryside, the people and even seemingly everyday items, are thought provoking. You will want to keep reading not only because it is such a joy to read but because you want to find out more about the characters and the plot.

A classic book that is timeless. Next on the list is Tender is the night. I can’t wait.

Janet Wilkinson

It was a privilege to read this classic novel of the “Jazz Age” and I would thoroughly recommend it. The story is an absorbing and thought-provoking evocation of an era, with well-drawn, intriguing characters and a theme which will resonate with any reader – the determined, if ultimately tragic, search for a distant dream.

Jay Gatsby is an enigma: he is wealthy and powerful, attracting huge numbers of rich and successful New Yorkers to his opulent parties, but his motivation is to win back the love of glamorous Daisy Buchanan, now married to an arrogant and brutal husband. But Gatsby’s money is based on crime and deceit – he exploits the Prohibition Era by selling liquor and many of his associates are from a world of gangsters and gambling frauds. We wonder whether to condemn or admire him, but we suspend our judgement as we become enchanted by his absolute faith in the possibility of persuading Daisy to admit her love for him.

His romantic dream fails, in violent circumstances, and symbolises the failure of a much wider dream – that of the Jazz Age itself, defeated by corruption and decadent moral values.

Anne Craig

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald has long been one of my favourite books but I am unsure of this edition by Penguin Classic Books. The Great Gatsby itself is a short novella at 165 pages and so the Introduction by Tanner at 50 pages long seems excessive. Indeed, I asked myself more than once if I actually needed to read the book as Tanner quotes large tracts from the text and describes what he perceives as the meaning behind each quote.

Fitzgerald wrote this book reflecting on the disillusionment and morally-bankrupt society of 1920’s, post-war America. He captures perfectly the obsession with wealth and status at whatever cost which seems to rob even the most perfectly rational person of chaste and pure scruples resulting in tragedy for all concerned. Every character is instantly likeable or detestable and one can almost indulge in their weaknesses and strengths. In fact, this could speak to the world in which we live today driven as it is by celebrity and greed.

This paperback would be a perfect purchase for the traveller who wants to read this classic but does not want to be weighed down by large and heavy tomes.