Now, before I write anything I should say that I am a big Fitzgerald fan. I love The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night (in fact, they are two of my all-time-favourite novels), as well as his many short stories, so I was pretty eager to read this. However to be honest I don’t think it’s half as good as Gatsby or Tender. This isn’t to say that it’s bad book – in fact there are some good moments in it and some memorable Fitzgerald lines.The Beautiful and the Damned

The Beautiful and the Damned explores some of the themes that Fitzgerald is famous for: wealth, beauty, youth and the shallowness of the lives of many in high-society during the 1920s and 30s. The novel follows Anthony Patch and his beautiful wife, Gloria, as they meet in their early twenties, full of vigour, excitement and life, and then follows them as they get married. The couple are idle rich and can’t commit themselves to anything (they move from place to place; their circle of friends changes; and Anthony cannot bring himself to work).

It is a sad tale of two bright young people who lose themselves and each other over the course of an almost endless ten-year drink-fuelled party. The novel ends with Anthony and Gloria finally inheriting the thirty million pounds that they had been chasing for years, but by now they are both broken and shallow individuals.

Fitzgerald saw both sides of the much celebrated ‘Jazz Age’ of 1920s America, and knew personally both the trophies of success (the money, fame, and renown) but also the darker underbelly of the American Dream (the drunkenness, hysteria and general lack of purpose of those who had supposedly ‘made it’). The novel captures the pointlessness of life lived without any belief or purpose and in this regard is a sad but telling piece of fiction.

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