Book Review: Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald silhouette available to buy from Hello Grey Day on Etsy

Until six months ago F. Scott Fitzgerald was one of the writers that I knew lots about but had never actually read. I'll be honest, it wasn't even on my to do list. Since I have been the reluctantly proud owner of a Kindle

I've taken full advantage of the fact that most of the classics are free to download and am slowly working my way through them starting somewhere in the early nineteenth century. So Mr. Fitzgerald and his Jazz Age was a long way away.

But then I read one of my new favourite (more modern) authors Haruki Murakami write at length about The Great Gatsby in his memoirs about running  What I Talk About When I Talk About Running and in one of his most famous novels Norwegian Wood. Seeing as I found Murakami so readable and I could still be satisfying my personal goal of reading more literary classics, I skipped a handful of decades and downloaded both The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night

Here is my short and sweet review of the only slightly lesser known Tender is the Night.

What's it all about? Tender is the Night loosely follows the lives of a group of fairly flamboyant Americans in France in the 1920s but its focus falls on Nicole and Dick Driver, an aesthetically pleasing couple who have it all and are loved by all. As Fitzgerald's narrative narrows in on their background thanks to a number of dramatic events and the presence of a beautiful young Hollywood actress not all is as it seems, of course.

What's so good about it? From what I've read Fitzgerald was often pestered by periods of self doubt with regard to his writing ability and on occasions he more than dabbled with drink, as do many of the characters in Tender is the Night. His writing is a pleasure to plough forwards into and it is at times stunningly in-depth and at other times comparatively brief (which has a lot to do with the final version of the novel being pieced together from a previous quite different version) but there is always a certain fragile charm which is reflected in the largely autobiographical plot too. 

Who, me? If you've either never touched F. Scott Fitzgerald or you stopped at The Great Gatsby, you'd do well to pick up a copy of Tender is the Night and let it first take you to the 1920s glamour of the French Riviera and then let it swoop you northwards to Paris and even when days become darker in Geneva there are still important if slightly elusive themes to enjoy - love, affairs, family, mental health, war - all delicately written about by a natural born writer who lived through them all.

Frances M. Thompson

Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before putting down some roots with her Australian partner and having a baby boy in July 2015. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her son around Amsterdam.
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