Classic Connections: The Great Gatsby & The Summer of …

Every once in a while, a great, contemporary novel comes around that not only stands alone as a great piece of fiction — but it also reminds us of a wonderful, classic novel. Such is the case with The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells. The book features numerous references to The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald — and in fact, many of the scenes in this book are evocative of moments in Gatsby.

So today, we wanted to take a moment to talk about what’s so great about The Great Gatsby, and show you why it’s worth reading — even though your teacher might agree with us! It’s just one of those novels that sweeps you up in the characters and their lives and the setting and the iconic green light at the end of the dock. It’s evocative of another place and time, and in reading it — you are transported to that place and time. There’s a romance and magic about The Great Gatsby — and as you can tell, it’s one of those novels that I was assigned as homework in high school, but has stuck with me all these years later.

So what is The Great Gatsby all about, anyway? Here’s a brief synopsis:

It’s also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Jay Gatsby’s quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means–and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. “Her voice is full of money,” Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel’s more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy’s patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout. Spare, elegantly plotted, and written in crystalline prose, The Great Gatsby is as perfectly satisfying as the best kind of poem.

There is also a fantastic movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby starring Robert Redford (when he was the RPattz of his time) as the titular character. And while this may sound like cheating, I actually watched the movie before reading the book — and it made me enjoy the novel even more. Here are a couple of clips from the movie:

For the comments: Have you read The Great Gatsby? Tell us your thoughts!

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