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4.2 out of 5 stars2,263
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Showing 1-10 of 299 reviews(3 star). Show all reviews
on 22 February 2016
I found The Great Gatsby to be quite a funny read (weird not haha) for me. I think I will definitely have to give it a reread at some point to fully understand the story. Don't get me wrong, it's an utterly brilliant written book. I just found that I had to reread paragraphs a lot.

The Great Gatsby isn't told from Gatsby's point of view either, but instead from the perspective of his new neighbour, Nick Carraway. This is something I didn't expect and it definitely gives an air of mystery to Gatsby's character. This also meant that it was never clear what would happen next. Everything was a surprise.

However, I did feel that the story dragged a bit in places. But I admit this is possibly due to me having to reread sections. I can also understand why The Great Gatsby is required reading in many schools. It sounds strange but it felt like I was reading a school book.

Unfortunately, I also felt quite detached from the characters. I just could not connect with any of them at all. And I'm not sure if it's meant to feel that way as Nick is new to the area so doesn't know everyone too well. Sure, Gatsby intrigued me and I did somewhat feel for Nick. And Daisy and Tom annoyed me. But these feelings felt quite mild compared to my connections with many other literary characters. However, the ending did bring a tear to my eye and it is an extremely poignant story.

As I said, I'm not too sure about my feelings for The Great Gatsby. I didn't fully understand it but I would definitely urge everyone to give it a go. I do hope and look forward to reading it again someday as I hope this will make everything clearer.

This review and many more can be found at <a href="">My Expanding Bookshelf</a>.
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on 25 March 2013
I started to read The Great Gatsby many year ago, when I was quite young, and abandoned the attempt. It seemed to be about irritating self absorbed people with whom I found it difficult to engage. I decided to try again having recently seen a trailer for the film. My response now was much the same as it was before. I really wanted to like it. I hoped that being more mature I would understand why it mattered, why I should be moved by the dilemma of these people. After all it is a great classic of American literature. I understand the context, and that it was written quite early in the twentieth century. I also see that it depicted an urban society in a way that was perhaps new at the time. In spit of this I am left with a sense of "So what?" There are tragedies, certainly, but for those tragedies to have an emotional impact, I, at any rate, need to care sufficiently about the people. I found I didn't. A group of self deceiving rich, "beautiful" messing up their lives, well it's what happens. For me it's just too much fuss about not very interesting people
The writing is crisp and, in parts, very visual. It is also quite short, so that one could read it in a day if determined, but for me it only a few days of normal bedtime reading.
I did like the edition. I buy Wordsworth Classics quite regularly as I find the layout good, the introductions thoughtful, though I don't always agree with them, which is not a problem, it makes one think, and the notes for the most part are useful.
I am left feeling that there is some deficit in me. Why don't I get it?
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on 10 December 2012
Considered a classic, this is one of those books you feel compelled to read and whilst I had no idea what it was about, wanted to buy it as I find the 1920's a hugely fascinating decade. "The Great Gatsby" is deemed by many to define the "Jazz Age" yet I didn't feel that there was much within the writing that seemed so redolent of the period which mixed the conspicuous consumption of the 1980's with the hedonism of the 1960's. Even the references to jazz itself were limited to a few mentions of music drifting in through windows, the pseuso-jazz orchestral work performed at a party (a veiled reference to Darious Milhaud's "La creation du monde", perhaps?) and the lyrics of W C Handy's "Beale Street Blues." Other than this , there isn't a great deal that appears so indicative of the 1920's. It's not a particularly descripive book either - we have little idea of what Gatsby looks like other than his fondness for a pink suit. The book's appeal as a piece of nostalgia is also limited unless you were a millionaire at that time - odd to discover that home-sick American GI's in World War II were largely responsible for rescuing this book from oscurity 20 years after it was published. For a better book about the 1920's, I would recommend "Remembering Bix" by Ralph Berton which wonderfully evokes the music and cultural scene of that era as well as caputring the tragety of the times too.

As far as the story itself, this stretches for 140 pages and effectively defines this as a novella. I was surprised that the book was so short ! Not a great deal happen and the principle characters are neither well defined nor particularly admirable. The incidents are few and far between with the story reaching it's tragic climax only towards the last third. For the most part, the beginning of the novel is simply a build up to the events which are ultimately predictable if a little bit melodramic. At the conclusion, Gatsby still remains elusive.

In conclusion, I'm glad I read this book before seeing the new film but can't help thinking that this book's success has as much to do with it being written at the very point when American established it's own cultural identity as opposed to borrowing from Europe as it does with being a great piece of literature. Otherwise, I think it is difficult to account for the appeal of the book and the fact that it has prompted two films. Granted the language is frequently beautiful in parts yet, for a novel that is alleged to ache with nostalgia, it is not in the same class as something like L.P. Hartley's "The Go Between" or Alain-Fournier's "Le Grand Meulnes."
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on 18 September 2012
I really don't see what the big deal is with this book. It seems as though a very simple plot has been flowered with the overuse of words that I'm sure most people would not understand. I had to switch to my Oxford dictionary about 5 times on every page on my kindle! It was unnecessary because the plot itself is very interesting. I felt the beginning was extremely slow and I kept waiting for something to happen. They kept mentioning Gatsby killed someone, and I thought that would turn into a bigger plot, but turned out to be a bit of irony in that he ended up killing someone (metaphorically) for the women he supposedly loves (maybe just her social ranking). I only read this now because of the upcoming film, and I like to read the book before seeing the film version, and usually I deem film versions ruin the book. In this case, I hope it is a lot better.
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I've always loved the idea of The Great Gatsby, probably because of all the beautiful quotes I see all over Pinterest. When I finally got around to picking up this classic, I was apprehensive, but I was also excited!

This didn't feel like a 122 page book, and it took much longer for me to read than I thought it would. The story is intricate and the characters complex, and occasionally I found myself bored while reading it. The writing is dripping with social commentary and cynical truth, which I enjoyed, I imagine this was ahead of its time and has stayed ridiculously relevant to modern society.

For a Classic, I found this to be pretty accessible, but there were still times when I struggled with it. Based on Fitzgerald’s writing style and certain plot points in this book, I can’t technically fault it, but based on my enjoyment levels?.. By the time I finished it I felt more than a little deflated. It wasn’t what I was expecting based on the number of people who RAVE about this novel, and adore it so much. While it didn’t blow me away as much as I expected it to, I have a feeling it may grow on me over time, and I’ll likely reread it to see what else I can glean from these pages.
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on 26 July 1999
Fitzgerald's prose style and tone are magnificent. He is a brilliant, unique writer in his use of language. If I were judging him on his use of language, it would be 5 stars, easy. His use of the language to me is as unique as Shakespeare, his narration as beautiful as Hemingway. But for plot development, oh the tragedy! His book begins slow (not too slow for those who like detail, though) and just as it builds to a climax--it ENDS! "Great Gatsby" has one of the most anticlimatic endings I've ever seen. Some books essentially have "no ending," that is, no neat,tidy happily-ever-after ending. Those books don't bother me; their endings add to the emotional punch by leaving a sort of emptiness. But THIS book's ending was just hollow. It seemed that just as the book got exciting, it ended on a flat note. Here's my advice: for brilliant prose and truly original writing, in style and content, read Fitzgerald's "This Side of Paradise." It has all of Fitzgerald's writing genius, but a fully developed storyline.
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on 17 June 2013
With the release of the latest film version of the book I heard more than one critic describe the book as one of the best/greatest/most wonderful books ever written. My recollection of a school induced attempt to read it was that it was over-rated but with all the current clamour about the glamour I wanted to reassess my view.

The Great Gatsby is a slim novel of 170 or so pages - bulked up in my edition by 55 pages of introduction - with a thin plot and a cast of characters that are sketched rather than fully drawn. The result is a water colour not an oil painting. It hints and teases at depths in plot and character but no more. It has been hailed as a great evocation of the time in the same way that Bonfire of the Vanities was the light that shone on corporate excess and social divide in the late 20th century. Yet it seems to be no more than a portrait of a small group of people in a small part of a country with little or no soul and nothing for the reader to latch on to and engage. Who do we really care about in Gatsby?

Rather like seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, reading The Great Gatsby has to be done. But done only once. It is famous for being famous. It works perhaps because the thin, enigmatic, opaque characters allow the reader to fill in the gaps, to add the depth with their own ideas. It's a book that can be whatever you want it to be.

Do read it. It's a perfectly enjoyable read and it's part of the literary landscape. It provokes discussions about what is 'great writing' and 'great literature' and so does us all a service. Does it bear comparison to Steinbeck, Hemmingway, Irving, even Wolfe? I think not. It's good. But its not great.
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on 15 October 2013
This is a story that revolves around the mysterious self made Gatsby. It is a story of a man's love for a woman that drove his life to success and ultimately to ruin. The story paints the colour of party swinging life in 20'S America. The story is unlikely but original and reads like a Greek tragedy. I read the book after seeing the recent movie (staring Leonardo DiCaprio) and preferred the book. However the movie is also recommended viewing. The book is short and can be read over a couple of days. I gave the book three stars because the book was not as fantastic as I imagined but I liked it.

The main characters are very rich and emphasize the great divide in society between successful and unsuccessful. There is a certain amount of embarrassment of riches in the extreme wealth of some people. However despite the extreme wealth, the main characters are not happy and seem to have lost their way. Only the Great Gatsby has a main purpose in life but it is an impossible dream that money can not buy.
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on 12 August 2008
The main story -- a romantic man's doomed attempt to recapture the love of an immature woman -- was less enthralling than expected. Daisy seemed hardly worth all the trouble Gatsby took, and for that matter, neither did entry into her world. She was a cipher. The use of a narrator to connect the various characters was interesting; how could the book have been written otherwise? But at times the plot felt contrived, as with the switching of cars and an accident, and the symbolism around the valley of ashes seemed heavy-handed. Other than the passive narrator, the people lacked even a small degree of self-awareness. (One of the author's points, I assume.) The character who seemed the least conflicted and most sure of himself throughout was the brutal, self-centered Tom.

It was the lesser details in this novel that were enjoyed most. A montage at the end of the second chapter in which the drunken narrator moved from an elevator, to a bedroom, to Penn Station. The effect Gatsby's smile had on those who saw it. A mansion housing a library of books with their pages uncut. The vapidity of a man who tried to act out his limited idea of the good life but had little of interest to say and thought San Francisco was in the Middle West. Dogged efforts at self-improvement linked to shallow goals. A shady character eating with "ferocious delicacy." The way Daisy conveyed her love for a character in just a few words said lightly in front of her husband. The class disdain someone like Tom felt for the main character -- he couldn't be an Oxford man because he wore a pink suit. The gust of hot shrubbery from Central Park wafting through the upper windows of the Plaza Hotel. The author's description of how it felt to reach 30. And the concluding paragraphs, which can still move despite the superficiality of the people portrayed.
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on 29 July 2013
I found this classic novel disappointing. Perhaps the art of writing has evolved, or I'm too attached to the current style, but I was left feeling that the storyline was good, but details were far-fetched in some places and under-developed in others. It's quite short as novels go and another hundred pages would have been to the good.
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