Monday, April 5, 2010

Tender is the Night

Tender Is the Night is F. Scott Fitzgerald's semi-autobiographical follow-up to The Great Gatsby. It is the story of a seemingly successful and beautiful American couple living on the French Riviera in the 1920s. Dick Diver is the psychiatrist-turned-husband of the schizophrenic heiress Nicole Warren. Young actress Rosemary Hoyt enters their lives, falling in love with Dick and becoming close friends with Nicole. The second part of the novel details Dick and Nicole's history, including the incestuous relationship with her father that triggered her mental illness. Dick married Nicole largely as part of her cure, and it is only through his downfall that she is ultimately able to recover.

I wanted very much to love this book. Gatsby is one of my all-time favorites, and several people whose opinions I value regard Tender is the Night as a better book. Fitzgerald's sentence construction is superior, and at its best it is unmatched. But often his flowery language comes across as pompous, and ultimately I found the plot to be a bit dull. I didn't connect with any of the characters, and the bursts of energy and excitement demonstrated the greatness the book might have achieved. In all, I was disappointed.

Next up: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

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