Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tender is the Night

I just finished reading Tender is the Night, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. WOW. It was on my great books list, and I've enjoyed several of Fitzgerald's other novels, so I thought it would be a good book to try. I was not disappointed.

Though there are a few slow areas in the plot, the story picks back up quickly. At first, it appears that the novel will follow Rosemary Hoyt, a young American actress traveling abroad with her mother. Rosemary meets Dick and Nicole Diver, a young, affluent couple, on a beach in France, during her travels. She soon finds herself falling in love with Mr. Diver.

From there, however, the story takes an abrupt turn. We learn the history of the Diver couple. Dick is a psychoanalytic doctor, and his relationship with Nicole began as a clinical one. An impossibly rich young girl from America, she'd been committed to a mental facility in Europe after a disastrous turn in her relationship with her father. Dick happens upon her one day in the facility grounds, and the two begin talking and writing to one another. Later, Dick almost seems compelled to marry her in order to fully cure her of her illness.

At any rate, the remainder of the tale primarily follows Dick and Nicole (with brief re-appearances by Rosemary) as their marriage evolves and eventually disintegrates. It is a sad tale, indeed, and it definitely smacks of Fitzgerald's fascinations with social power and money. It also sadly rings with autobiographical elements in Fitzgerald's later life - adultery, mental illness, the feeling of failed potential.

Despite its sombre tone, I enjoyed this novel. I will be reading more of Fitzgerald in the near future.

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