Tag Archives: Tender Is the Night

My Mailbox: Zelda Fitzgerald, Emma Donoghue, and Meg Wolitzer

I received some good books in the mail this week, two of which I ordered online and one of which comes from a good friend. I also made an unsupervised trip to the library in my new car this weekend, and I came back with only two books! Jack was so proud.

Save Me the Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald
I enjoyed Tender Is the Night by Zelda’s husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald, but I found myself yearning for a complementary view—for the wife’s side of the story. I was delighted to find that such a story may exist in Zelda’s account of her mental breakdown and, more generally, her marriage. I’m looking forward to this one.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
I’ve wanted to read this book for a while. I hesitated to get it from the library, because I doubted that I could finish it in two weeks, so when a friend offered to send me her copy I jumped at the chance. I’m hoping to listen to it on audiobook as well so that I don’t have to lug the book around with me.

Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue
I read this collection of reimagined fairytales in my undergraduate Fairy Tales class—God, I loved being an English major—and when I discussed fairy-tale themes in Donoghue’s newest book, Room, I decided that I could no longer live without a copy of the book that made me a huge Donoghue fan girl. I’m hoping to re-read this one soon.

The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer
I’ve never read anything by Wolitzer before, so I hope I’m pleasantly surprised. I checked out both the hardcover and the audiobook, so I’m hoping to finish it pretty quickly.

The Spice Islands Voyage by Timothy Severin
This book is subtitled “The quest for Alfred Wallace, the man who shared Darwin’s discovery of evolution.” I’m not entirely sold on it—it sounds like it may not really be my kind of book—but I’ve heard good things about it, so who knows. I’m trying to read about Indonesia as much as possible before my trip there in a few weeks!

So, what books did you get this week?

Wordless Wednesday: Sweetness Draining

Photo by Koen Cobbaert

“Tender Is the Night” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Title: Tender Is the Night
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
ISBN: 9780684801544
Pages: 320
Release Date: January–April 1934 (four issues)
Publisher: Scribner’s Magazine
Genre: Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Summary

Rosemary Hoyt, a young American actress, is vacationing in the French Riviera with her mother. She instantly befriends Dick and Nicole Diver, a glamorous American couple who have created a rich life for their family in Europe. As Rosemary becomes more attached to Nicole, she also becomes infatuated with Dick.

The Divers’ history begins to leak out into Rosemary’s view, and suddenly the entire story floods into the narrative, though at that point Rosemary has temporarily left the story. The book begins to revolve around Dick and Nicole and becomes more interesting. Their relationship is a study of the strength one person gains from the weakness of another.

Analysis

It was slow going at first, with beautiful but self-conscious prose. Though I admired Fitzgerald’s writing style, I found it difficult to connect with any of the characters, and I had trouble getting into the story. I only kept going because I heard it would pick up in Book 2—and I was not disappointed.

The characters truly come alive in Book 2, and suddenly I found myself deeply involved in the story. The characters’ histories and motivations are finely wrought, and they are endearing despite their flaws.

At the risk of over-analyzing the connection between the author’s life and his work, it seems to me that the best parts of the book were the ones that came from his personal experience, particularly in regard to loving someone with mental illness.

The setting is also worth mentioning. The tale moves from the brilliant sun of the South of France, to the parties and society of Paris, to the fresh snow of Switzerland. My favorite thing about reading is learning new things, particularly about places I’ve never been, and Tender Is the Night offers a vivid image of some of the most opulent vacation spots of its time.

I found the story well-written and enjoyable, in spite of its slow parts. Fitzgerald showcases his storytelling talent with his many-layered characters, and his scene descriptions and dialogue are superb.