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3.8 out of 5 stars
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3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 30 June 1999
Reading some of these reviews has proven to be depressing - in the sense that everyone is focusing on the youthful 'flaws' of this novel. Perhaps it is not comparable in brilliance to Gatsby - but kids-Fitzgerald was a rarest of species-he was a literary genius and Gatsby was his masterpiece! 'This Side'...may have been his first attempt out but never the less a marvelous portrait of being young in the 20th Century. It's shameful that people constantly compare this story to Gatsby, his Sistine Chapel of novels. No, this is simply a terrific story - and it truly is. Amory Blaine is an exceedinlgy likeable protagonist(something all the 'young hip'writers of today seem to forget to have), his images are portraits and his prose are just beginning to blossom. Indeed, this a youthfully 'flawed' novel by a young genius - which still equals an excellent work of fiction. - Oh, and if one reads this book and does not like Amory Blaine, that someone either forgot what it was to be young - or simply doesn't want to be reminded. Ciao.
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VINE VOICEon 5 April 2012
To fall in love with Fitzgerald at first sight start with The Great Gatsby; to fall slowly by degrees start with The Beautiful and Damned, then Tender is the Night; and if you've false-started here with This Side of Paradise, then you may be wondering what all the fuss is about. The novel, written as it was when Fitzgerald "didn't know how to plan or write a novel" is not representative of his brilliance. 5 years later Fitzgerald himself bemoaned its literary borrowings, "faked references and intellectual reactions" whilst praising its "enormous emotion". It is difficult for readers today to touch much except the novel's emotional life but to 1920s America it was a book of its time, one of the first to tap into the Jazz Age's jugular and spill the blood of a generation "grown up to find all gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken...."

Amory Blaine is our protagonist, young, handsome, male, convinced of his own potential for greatness and beset by the concomitant doubts of trying to realise this. It's this formula that we can all relate to (Princeton graduates and male readers in particular perhaps) of youth's vacillations between splendour and debacle; the freshness of first love; the negotiation of social status; the desperation to "be" someone. Blaine is romantic, nostalgic and contemptuous as he makes his way through prep-school, Princeton and out the other side to stand beneath a "crystalline, radiant sky" and utter the novel's famous last lines.

The structure of the novel fights against itself; Bruccoli (Some Sort of Epic Grandeur) notes in the introduction its mishmash being due to the fact that it is a cobbling together of previously written dramas, poetry and shorts from Fitzgerald's published writings at Princeton. It's difficult not to feel this distraction, especially if you have first read and savoured the sublime precision of Gatsby. Nevertheless, Paradise is liberally sprinkled with gorgeous prose: merciless in its description of character and beautiful in that of place. It is the prose, and the truths of youth it renders in all their larger-than-life self-indulgence, that are the beating heart of this novel today.

For those of us who believe Fitzgerald to be one of the finest American writers, Paradise is a tantalising stepping-stone on the way to Gatsby and is worthy of being read on the strength of that alone. There's a pleasure to be had from its rawness and lack of sophistication when compared with his more accomplished works; moreover, Amory Blaine is a figure to be remembered despite the inauspicious surroundings of his conception (or perhaps because of them). In Blaine and Paradise we have the dreams of the young Fitzgerald--he of the Princeton boast of becoming "one of the greatest writers that ever lived"--in all their unkempt glory.
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on 16 April 2012
As a growing Fitzgerald fan, this is the last of his work I have got around to reading and although I wouldn't say I had left the best till last, I was far more impressed than I expected. This was a great book and I will definitely be reading it again and again throughout my life. I decided on this particular version after being impressed with the Dead Dodo Kindle release of The Beautiful and Damned, and again, I couldn't fault the formatting, menus, etc. I recommend.
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on 29 August 2015
The book that started it all... the first salvo of the Jazz Age and the "It Couple" that embodied the personification of "The Roaring Twenties": Scott and Zelda! Read the first best-seller on the disaffected youth later tagged "The Lost Generation" as they struggle with their lives and loves and The Great War going on "over there". A perfect portrait of a moment in time, and at the same time, timeless, universal, and ever thus.
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on 4 February 2013
This is Fitzgerald's first book. I read it not expecting a masterpiece, but keen to see the origins of Fitzgerald's style. I was pleasantly surprised and found the story of the young Amory Blaine to be an engaging journey into a long-lost era, while there are very fine descriptive passages throughout the book.

I read it on my 7" Kindle and found the layout and formatting to be just perfect, while the choice of photographs added something to my reading experinece as well.
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on 1 February 2013
Fitzgerald's first novel, a young man's story, one may even say a Bildungsroman. I thoroughly enjoy this series of books, as it allows the reader to re-discover Fitzgerald in an accessible form, and is also well accompanied with stylish illustrations.
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on 16 October 2013
Have now read all of his books, only to solve the mystery as to why people loved this author. Don't get why though. I'm not the arty-farty type, so maybe that's why I wouldn't acclaim Mr Fitzgerald! Preferred the films, someone must have been interested enough to interpret or analyse his thoughts?
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on 31 August 2013
When reading this, one finds themselves enthralled, really catapulted into the era in which Fitzgerald knows so well. This was only the second book of his I had ever read, but I loved it. Buy it. Read it. You'll certainly enjoy it.
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on 17 February 1999
As a HS sophomore I read this book for the first time, and I was enthralled with Amory's journey to find himself. The closing lines of the novel remain some of my favorite of anything I've read. Everytime I re-read this book, I am captured by the search for self and prompted to rethink my own self-concepts. Some criticize the book for its unrefined style, but the variance in techniques used is one of my favorite parts of the novel. I love Fitzgerald most for his way with words, and the use of both poetry and script along with prose truly showcase his brilliance. A wonderful read!
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on 26 April 2013
Amory Blaine turned out to be a tiresome individual and although I felt some sympathy for him when he got his heart broken, I still didn't really care too much what happened to him. In fact, two weeks later I have already forgotten how the story ended.
I find it hard to believe that this work is by the same author who wrote 'The Great Gatsby' which is an excellent book. This, by contrast is tedious and self indulgent. The more the author told me about Amory Blaine's opinions, the more I came to believe that they were his own opinions very thinly disguised as fiction. I have subsequently discovered that a lot of F Scott Fitzgerald's work is autobiographical and I was not surprised; in some places, this novel reads like a badly written diary. Still, this is his first novel and I suppose he needed to practice the writers art in order to become good later on.
If you are new to this author, you may very well enjoy this book. Do not make my mistake of reading 'Gatsby' first because this one just isn't in the same league.
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