Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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RATING: 3.5/5

BLURB: “In a Swiss sanitorium, a brilliant psychiatrist encounters a rich young patient whose problems exert a seductive fascination. After their marriage, they live on the French Riviera. There, set against the sun-baked stone houses and the drama of the sea, Dick and Nicole Diver’s glamour and wealth suggest a fabled existence – the charmed lives of the seriously and breathtakingly frivolous. But, as with all confidence tricks, luck can run out”

REVIEW: As a huge fan of ‘The Great Gatsby’, which I studied a couple of years ago for my AS levels, and of many of Fitzgerald’s short stories, I was greatly looking forward to reading this novel, which is of a much longer length and a very autobiographical nature. I undertook a fair amount of research on Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald when studying for my exams and can certainly understand why many critics have made links between this novel and Fitzgerald’s personal life, particularly the mental and emotional instability of his wife, Zelda (as illustrated by the character of Nicole), and the main character, Dick’s, slowly increasing dependence on alcohol. This enriched the book for me personally, and made it a more enjoyable read. The relationship between Nicole and Dick begins unconventionally and this seems to poison their marriage throughout the novel, leading to several serious misunderstandings. The growing distance between the couple is beautifully and subtly written, so that the reader almost cannot foresee them falling apart until it is too late. As both characters descend into extramarital affairs  – Dick first, with a young and beautiful actress named Rosemary (who possesses many of the same qualities as that of Daisy Buchanan in ‘…Gatsby’), and towards the end of the book, Nicole with a man named Tommy. The disintegration of the couple’s marriage is extremely realistic and believable, making it even more difficult for the reader to accept and digest. For me, this novel could never possibly match ‘…Gatsby’, but I feel that Fitzgerald must have felt a great sense of relief in writing it; it allowed him to express the pain he felt surrounding his wife in a way that was both impersonal and therapeutic. I would definitely recommend this novel, particularly to anyone with an interest in Fitzgerald’s personal and private life.

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