Last month I finished two books, Tender Is The Night being the first of them. I had a bit of help in form of a holiday that I used not only to go SCUBA diving and watching late night hotel TV but to also read The Buried Giant (Kazuo Ishiguro). A five-hour flight also helped and I read over 200 pages on the return flight alone.
But onto Tender Is The Night:
I found it a bit harder reading than the previous book I read, maybe because of the somewhat turgid way of Fitzgerald’s writing. But I actually enjoyed the novel, a tragedy at that. It took me a while to come around to it, but there were parts that I found quite exciting whilst others were never really dull. I guess Fitzgerald describes a certain society. I don’t think that “ordinary people” are really his forte and so I cannot really read it without silently scoffing at the issues presented of these rich, affluent and beautiful people that do not have to concern themselves with worldly issues, such as working.
The story is about the marriage of the Divers, Nicole and Dick, who also have two children. The children, however, do only play a peripheral role in the story. They tend to not be seen or heard. The first act, or book, is actually written from the point of Rosemary, who comes into the Divers lives as they are living in a villa overlooking the French Riveria. She’s overcome by their sophistication, their splendour and their ability to be exquisite party hosts. She is particularly infatuated with Dick and being a (just turned) 18-year-old Hollywood starlet, she has little trouble to awake feelings in Dick.
The rest of the novel, book two and three, is mainly written from Dick’s perspective, he becomes the main protagonist and the novel jumps a bit back and forth in time in relation to the events of the first book.
What eventually captured me was the ultimate downfall of the Divers, Dick in particular. Without going too much into the detail of the story and spoil it, Dick is a very talented and admired doctor. He is a psychiatrist. The events that unfold as a result of his indiscretion with Rosemary are believable, sad and have all elements of a classic Greek tragedy. It’s masterfully written, in my opinion. And I did get very emotionally distraught by the end of the book.
It is described as “a tragedy backlight by beauty” and so it is. I can very much recommend this read.