Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Beautiful and DamnedThe Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I feel like I need to caveat this review with a proclamation of love for The Great Gatsby . And I love Gatsby - love, love, love. But this... The Beautiful and the Damned was utterly disappointing. And from what I understand, the characters here more so mimic the characters in This Side of Paradise , a novel I will most likely not be reading. I found nothing redeemable in the pages of this text.

Fitzgerald's stories are all about the same, and that's okay. He found his niche in the upper class, downfall of the 1920s. This decade is near and dear to my heart with flappers and speakeasies and gangsters. The fall out of prohibition, which he so eloquently captured in Gatsby makes nary a mention of impact in The Beautiful and the Damned . And it's not that all his novels have to follow this formula, but the prose should be intriguing, and the characters at the very least interesting.

I felt nothing for any of them. Not Anthony Patch and his self-entitled importance, or Gloria and her dimwitted approach to life. At least with Daisy, there's a likability about her in the beginning, she has weight...Gloria is utterly useless. Anthony, even more so. Sorry Francis, this novel just didn't reach me (and it seems I'm not alone here).

The premise of the story is simple:

Anthony Patch, a "socialite" of the 1920s just waiting for his grandfather to die finally meets a woman he deems beautiful and empty-headed enough to take as a wife. They marry, they fight, it's disastrous but they stick it out because, hey, there's money involved in this. Anthony, quite randomly I might add, joins the Army (well, really he is drafted against his will) and barely serves. To say "his service" is a disservice to real soldiers. Of course, he worms his way out of Uncle Sam's grasp and falls into the depths of alcoholism (as many did just shy of prohibition). He ends the novel standing on the deck of ship, a millionaire without a care in the world. (Just kind of pisses you off, doesn't it?)

Apparently the book is believed to be based on Fitzgerald's relationship and marriage with Zelda Fitzgerald, and if this is so - I pity them.

My final thoughts - just stick to Gatsby and let that be that.

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