"Well, you never knew exactly how much space you occupied in people's lives."
While "Tender is the Night," which was his last published novel in 1934, is not quite the equal of "The Great Gatsby" ("What is?"), it meant a great deal to Fitzgerald and some critics value it about "Gatsby." Set in the French Riviera in the 1920s (It's hardly a "period piece," as another commentator contends.), the couple at the heart of the novel is based both on Scott and Zelda's tumultuous relationship, as well as that of their friends Sara and Gerald Murphy, to whom the book is dedicated. It's Fitzgerald's most personal, deeply felt, and moving novel. The title comes from a Keats poem.
"If you liked "The Great Gatsby," for God's sake read this. "Gatsby" was a tour de four, but "Tender is the Night" is a confession of faith."-Fitzgerald.
Set against the backdrop of Europe during the Roaring Twenties, Tender is the Night features the glamorous life of Dick and Nicole Diver, a young American couple. Fitzgerald has beautifully described the inner qualities and conflicts of characters from the third person perspective. Primarily, the story is about the transformation of Dick, as from a charming and ambitious psychiatrist whose politeness and graciousness are favoured by others, he turns into a man who can no longer live up to his professional and personal standards. His moral dissolution and diminishing vitality are illustrated in a way that is both effective and emotionally charged. Fitzgerald’s work on this book is admirable; the vivid descriptions of the settings and relationships are true examples of classic literature. 4/5 Stars
- @VirtueofReading of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library
Fitzgerald writes period pieces; this one is too much with a European scene which is unknowable to an average American reader such as I; thus it is a fine story, well-written, in lovely prose, but without the intimacy of Gatsby which is an American period piece, and much more to my liking.
The writing is excellent. The plotting a little uneven. But still a classic, if only to peer inside Mr. Fitzgerald's head. The characters have a lot in common with the author.
Rising starlet Rosemary Hoyt arrives at the French Riviera in the roaring twenties and becomes enamored with charismatic psychiatrist Dick Diver and his troubled heiress wife, Nicole. Reading this was infuriating. Were it not for the redeeming quality of Fitzgerald’s exquisite prose, I would have given up within 100 pages. The execution was terrible! Fantastic writing wasted on fragmented storytelling! Don’t get me wrong, there was a substantial and intriguing story contained in the 300+ pages, but it was permeated with inconsequential drivel throughout. The drama highlights the psychology of expat American high society (though this isn’t apparent until book II, 100+ pages in!), specifically focusing on the impact of father figures and their influences on the neuroses of the characters. Read this novel with a deep reservoir of patience and lenience for poor editing.
First and foremost a character study, Tender Is the Night slowly reveals the inner-workings of Dick Diver over the course of several years, investigating how an intelligent and ambitious man ended up in a relationship in which he feels he is slowly losing his independence. However, surrounding the melancholy tale of Dick, Fitzgerald beautifully describes several parts of Europe and the life of the idle rich American expats who lived there during the late 1920s. A read that is great not only to experience the skills of an author near the height of his brilliance but to empathetically observe Dick on his decline.
As much as I love The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night is Fitzgerald's true masterpiece. It is a haunting tale that most readers can more readily identify with.
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