A man observes the comings and goings of a 1920s party host who is both his neighbour and a paramour of his cousin.
What I Liked
It is weird to go back and read this book some 35 years after high school. I remember thinking it was this glamourous world of parties and high society, where people really did act differently from the common folk. As an adult, I see it for what it is — a portrayal of a shallow summer, without substance or value, leading to an inevitable tragedy of people over-estimating their self-importance and narcissism. Beautifully written, harshly portrayed as Nick Carroway observes the desires of Jay Gatsby for a married Daisy Buchanan, the woman he loved but lost years before. All of the summer reads like life without consequences, an embracing of hedonism and simple pleasures, but without anyone asking if it is really what they want or just what they think they want.
What I Didn’t Like
I find it intriguing that my young self saw it as a tragedy, but without particular indictment of the lifestyle of the secondary characters. They seemed more cliché or farce than real at the time, but now it just seems simply depressing across the board. I didn’t care about any character anywhere in the book, not even Nick, who is mostly a blank slate.
An orphan in the mid-1800s is diverted from the gallows to a school for girls, gets her high school education, and graduates to become an operative for a special investigating Agency of women run by the heads of the school.