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on 7 April 2009
Penguin make much of the fact that there were seventeen versions of Tender is the Night; this is to justify the fact which they don't tell you- this green-jacketed version is completely different to the 1934 version. That was told in flashbacks; this version was re-ordered chronologically after Fitzgerald's death by friend and critic Malcolm Cowley.

Do not read this if you are looking for the standard edition; this is an obscure, discredited version which was assumed to have been out of print since the 1970s. It is of scholarly value, but is NOT the 'proper' version.
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on 8 January 2004
Thought provoking and brilliantly written “Tender is the Night” etches itself into your brain: once read, never forgotten. Longer, looser but more complex and much darker in its subject matter than “The Great Gatsby”, Scott Fitzgerald similarly transcends time & place to leave you with quite unforgettable images. For example, describing an open-air dinner party on the Cote d’Azur he writes: “There were fireflies riding on the dark air and a dog baying on some low and far-away ledge of the cliff. The table seemed to have risen a little toward the sky like a mechanical dancing platform, giving the people around it a sense of being alone with each other in the dark universe, nourished by its only food, warmed by its only lights.” And, thirty years after first reading that wonderfully evocative description, it’s still there: burned-in as a reference-point that follows me around all open-air late night parties… just waiting for that distant bark.

Replete with similar passages, “Tender is the Night” juxtaposes romantic idylls with the personal tragedies surrounding most of its characters, and, in so doing, triumphs in exploring the differences between perception and reality, superficiality versus excess, strength of character versus fear & weakness, and uncontrollable madness versus self-induced self-destruction. Drawing you into a hedonistic world that you would sincerely wish to be part of and then exploding its deficiencies in front of you, it leaves you realising that not all is what it seems.
Closing with a superbly structured final paragraph that ranks as one of the most effective I’ve ever read – bringing together everything that the book seeks to explore in a few cogently dismissive and understated sentences – this is writing at its very best: compelling, perceptive, complex, timeless and, beneath its superficially “glossy” exterior, very true. If you haven’t read it do: it’s one of the best books out there.
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on 8 January 2004
Thought provoking and brilliantly written “Tender is the Night” etches itself into your brain: once read, never forgotten. Longer, looser but more complex and much darker in its subject matter than “The Great Gatsby”, Scott Fitzgerald similarly transcends time & place to leave you with quite unforgettable images. For example, describing an open-air dinner party on the Cote d’Azur he writes: “There were fireflies riding on the dark air and a dog baying on some low and far-away ledge of the cliff. The table seemed to have risen a little toward the sky like a mechanical dancing platform, giving the people around it a sense of being alone with each other in the dark universe, nourished by its only food, warmed by its only lights.” And, thirty years after first reading that wonderfully evocative description, it’s still there: burned-in as a reference-point that follows me around all open-air late night parties… just waiting for that distant bark.

Replete with similar passages, “Tender is the Night” juxtaposes romantic idylls with the personal tragedies surrounding most of its characters, and, in so doing, triumphs in exploring the differences between perception and reality, superficiality versus excess, strength of character versus fear & weakness, and uncontrollable madness versus self-induced self-destruction. Drawing you into a hedonistic world that you would sincerely wish to be part of and then exploding its deficiencies in front of you, it leaves you realising that not all is what it seems.
Closing with a superbly structured final paragraph that ranks as one of the most effective I’ve ever read – bringing together everything that the book seeks to explore in a few cogently dismissive and understated sentences – this is writing at its very best: compelling, perceptive, complex, timeless and, beneath its superficially “glossy” exterior, very true. If you haven’t read it do: it’s one of the best books out there.
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on 22 October 2012
This isn't a review of the novel (which is brilliant) but of this kindle edition which is atrocious. It would be nice perhaps if the kindle editions were actually read through prior to issuing as this one contains numerous spelling mistakes, weird punctuation and, worst of all, missing words and sentences. It starts out OK but gradually gets worse and I gave up about 25% in as there was one point where I really struggled to understand what was happening due to the quantity of missing sentences. I'm still in the half kindle / half proper books camp, but in this instance buy the physical item and enjoy what is a genuine classic as it should be enjoyed.
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on 17 January 2013
This edition is F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1934 original novel. There is a cheaper edition, but I noticed reviews saying it had spelling and punctuation mistakes, and even missing text. So I was glad I bought this edition which is free from errors and well laid out. There are contemporary photographs between chapters which are unique to this version as well.

If you haven't read Tender is the Night before, it's a longer and more challenging work than The Great Gatsby, more ambitious and more rewarding in my mind. You can see the influence of Sigmund Freud and notions of madness. I would recommend you Google 'Hemingway's Letter to F Scott Fitzgerald' to see what another great writer thought about this classic book.
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on 1 January 2014
I first read The Great Gatsby fifty years ago, and have re-read it regularly over the years to indulge myself in the richness of the prose and the clear morality of the story. I had several times attempted to get into Tender is the Night, but until earlier this month it had always eluded my attention. Gatsby has a clear narrative timeline and two fine characters - the self-effacing Nick, and Gatsby himself - and two detestable pantomime villains: Daisy and her husband, who damage people but then pass on cocooned in their wealth.

Tender is the Night has a quite different structure - and there are no villains at all. I tackled the book again a week or so back at the urging of a friend and published author whose views I much respect, and who rated the book greater than Gatsby. I read it once, and at the end of this first reading quite frankly didn't see the point: medical charlatan marries young, beautiful, rich patient and gets his comeuppance. But, respecting my friend's views, I persevered: and half-way through the second time I began to get an understanding. Now, having read it in full three times in succession I can see why it can be considered to be greater than Gatsby.

The triptych structure is essential to the book. The first part shows Dick and Nicole Diver at the height of their existence: glamour and attractiveness seen through the perceptive eyes of a young (seventeen) but self-assured young actress, Rosemary, who falls heavily in love or infatuation with Doctor Dick. He rises nobly to resist her attempt at an affair without offending her, and clearly expressing his responsibilities to the wife and children he loves.

The second section is a flashback explaining how their relationship came to be, and the perilous quicksands upon which it is built. Dick is a serious young psychiatrist with a dazzling future ahead of him - but he is poor. Nicole, then sixteen, becomes his patient and over time they fall in love and marry: she is emotionally damaged, but very rich. Taking this history in the second part gives you cause to reflect upon the dazzling impressions of the first part, and to suspect the weaknesses that underlie it.

In part three, the finale, the edifice of their life together crumbles and eventually their marriage falls apart. They separate, divorce; with Nicole now strengthened to independence and Dick descending into alcohoiism and a succession of appointments in small towns where his charm can disguise the failure of his talent. Nicole still loves him for what he meant to her, and you know that he still loves her - but that there is no way back. Both Dick and Nicole terminate their relationship with a dignity that confirms that their relationship, although flawed, was nevertheless something of value.

I now, and somewhat to my surprise, agree with my friend's assessment that it is greater than Gatsby - but it requires more effort than a casual flipping through.
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Tender Is the Night is one of the most interesting examples in 20th century fiction of reversing the usual social metaphors. Dr. Dick Diver, a psychiatrist, is examined as a case of mental health. He is also placed in a classic woman's role, that of the desired, amiable beauty sought after by all and sundry. These juxtapositions of the usual social perspectives allow the reader to touch closer to the realities of human need and connection, by piercing our assumptions about what is "right and proper."
The story begins from the perspective of Rosemary Hoyt, an 18-year-old motion picture star, recuperating on the Rivera. One day she goes to the beach and becomes entranced by the Divers, Dick and Nicole, a golden couple with whom she immediately falls in love. Beautiful, young, rich, and looking for adventure, she quickly sets out to capture Dick who is the most wonderful person she has ever met.
Later, the story shifts to Dick's perspective and traces back to the beginnings of his marriage to Nicole. She had formed an accidental attachment to him (a classic psychiatric transference) while residing in a mental hospital. He returned her friendship, and found it impossible to break her heart. They married, and he played the role of at-home psychiatrist tending her schizophrenia. All went well for years, but gradually he became weary of his role. His weariness causes him to re-evaluate his views on life . . . and the psychological profile of Dr. Diver, charming bon vivant, begins.
The tale is a remarkably modern one, even if it was set in the 1920s. Fitzgerald deeply investigates the meanings of love, humanity, and connection. In so doing, he uncovers some of the strongest and most vile of human passions, and makes fundamental commentaries about the futility of fighting against human nature. The result is a particularly bleak view of life, in which the tenders may end up more injured by life than those they tend. What good is it to please everyone else, if they offend rather than please you instead?
The character portrayals of Rosemary Hoyt, Dick Diver, and Nicole Diver are remarkably finely drawn. I can remember no other book where three such interesting characters are so well developed. You will feel like each of them is an old friend by the time the novel ends.
If you have ever had the chance to read Freud, the novel will remind you of his writings. There is the same fine literary hand, the succinctness and clarity of expression, and the remorseless directness of looking straight at the unpleasant. I felt like I was reading Freud rather than Fitzgerald in many sections.
This book should open up your mind to thinking about which social conventions you observe that leave you uncomfortable . . . or which are in contradiction to your own nature. Having surfaced those misfitting parts of your life, I suggest that you consider how you could shift your observation of conventions to make them more meaningful and emotionally rewarding for you.
Be considerate because it pleases you to be, not as a ruse to obtain love!
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on 21 June 2007
In a Swiss sanatorium above lake Zürich, Dr Richard (Dick) Diver meets a fascinating young patient, Nicole Warren. Nicole suffers from Divided Personality at its acute down-hill phase which translates in her fear of men because she was the victim of incest after her mother's death.

Nicole's state improves after some time at the clinic and Richard marries her. They move to the French Riviera where they live in the glamour provided by Nicole's family money but soon their luck runs out.

This novel is Fitzgerald's most personal one if one considers that his own wife Zelda became increasingly troubled with mental illness in the 1930s and so the story of Dick Diver and his schizophrenic wife Nicole shows the pain that the author went through himself. It is the moving account of the collapse of a marriage and an attempt to diagnose the sickness and destruction that money breeds. Dick's final loneliness in the novel reflects Fitzgerald's own dive into drink and despair.
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on 16 January 2013
Just when I completed the wonderful new edition of The Great Gatsby accompanied by stylish vogue illustrations, my eyes get to feast on another fine new edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald: Tender Is The Night, again lavishly illustrated with period photographs. I feel that these new editions will appeal just as much to people coming fresh to F. Scott Fitzgerald as to seasoned veterans like myself who can enjoy these familiar works in a fresh new light. Buy it and see!
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There are two editions of Tender is the Night in print, the original in which much is told in flashback, and a revised edition with a more linear structure. This review is based on the latter version.

Tender is the Night is the story of the marriage of Dick and Nicole Diver, rich Americans living in Europe in the 20s. Once you get past the male lead's name which to the modern ear sounds like a 70s porn star, this is a fascinating if flawed book.

It is written in five episodes. The first introduces us to psychiatric Doctor, Dick Diver. An American in Europe after the Great War who falls in love with and marries beautiful, rich but troubled patient Nicole. Through the rest of the book we see them and their children living a glamorous but shallow life in the primarily expatriate community on the Mediterranean coast and around Europe.

It is a privileged but fragile existence. Initially it seems that the major threat to their marriage is Nicole's latent madness, but as the novel progresses we learn more about Dick's weakness and inconstancy, professionally, personally and emotionally.

Tender is the Night is a dark and complex tale, on the cusp between the classical and modern novel, but very much in the latter camp. At times, while living in an outwardly brilliant and luxurious world, it feels like we are lost in a dense mental and emotional jungle. Minor events carry dark psychological threat, horrific violence randomly interrupts civilised society, Half-hearted duels are fought to escape the ennui of privileged existence. Above all to me it seemed a book which could only have been written in a world influenced by Sigmund Freud, right from the very first section where we learn of Nicole's abuse at the hands of her father, from which she escapes into the arms of another (at least initially) father figure, Dick.

The fascinating centre of the novel is Dr Diver. At first he seems brilliant, principled, charismatic, but as the novel progresses we see that he has too much, too far, too soon. The world comes too easily to him, and rather than building on his fortune, he is revealed as a weak dilettante, indulging in serial adultery , and lacking the professional focus for a successful career. In the end it is his, rather than her weakness which is the greatest threat to the marriage, although ironically she is eventually freed from her mental difficulties only when she mirrors his behaviour

Some of the physical descriptive writing is breathtaking. An outdoor dinner party early in the novel, shimmers on the page, with the reader almost able to hear the cicadas chirping in the background.

Tender is the Night can be at times be a difficult novel, Fitzgerald sometimes seems to be wilfully obtuse. On other occasions the writing is unnecessarily verbose (never use one word where six will do). However, its virtues far outweigh its faults and for me it falls into the category of books whoich are deeply rewarding if you stick with them.

One final point of interest to note is the somewhat fractured style of the book, which could be seen both as reflecting the underlying madness, but also being indicative of the influence of the early cinema on the author.

So, highly recommended, if you aren't looking for a light, easy, read.
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