Today, I am thrilled to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for The Duke of Bannerman Prep by Katie A. Nelson — a seductive, modern retelling of The Great Gatsby, set at a California prep school.
I was sold on this book the minute I heard that premise! Not only am I a sucker for YA books set at prep schools, but The Great Gatsby is also one of my favorite classic books!
The Duke of Bannerman Prep will be in stores TOMORROW – but before you dive in, we’ve amassed 10 fun facts about its source of inspiration:
1. Reluctantly Titled
F. Scott Fitzgerald was never thrilled with the title of his book The Great Gatsby. In fact, he toyed around with several others – even right up until publication – but ultimately his editor talked him out of his more obscure title ideas. Rejected titles included:
- Among Ash-Heaps and Millionaires
- Trimalchio in West Egg
- On the Road to West Egg
- Under the Red, White, and Blue
- Gold-Hatted Gatsby
- The High-Bouncing Lover
2. Adaptations Galore
The Great Gatsby has been adapted into a stage play, an opera, a ballet, and several films. Though the more recent 2013 version starring Leonardo DiCaprio may look beautiful, I much prefer the 1974 version with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow.
3. Initially, A Failure
Though it is now lauded as one of the greatest American novels, The Great Gatsby was a commercial failure when it was first published, and received only mixed critical reviews. When Fitzgerald died in 1940, he believed his novel was a failure. It was only later that it became a hit.
4. WWII Bump
A lot of that later success is credited to a program that distributed books to soldiers stationed overseas during WWII. 155,000 copies of The Great Gatsby were given to soldiers, who loved the book. A Saturday Evening Post article claimed the book was “as popular as pin-up girls.”
5. Success, At Last
The Great Gatsby continues to sell somewhere in the ballpark of 500,000 copies per year (it sold less than 20,000 in its first year in publication) — and was voted by Modern Library as the best American novel of the 20th century.
6. Real-Life Inspiration
Fitzgerald was inspired to write The Great Gatsby after attending lavish parties at mansions on Long Island’s north shore. And much like his narrator, Nick, Fitzgerald was a midwest native who attended an Ivy League School. And like Gatsby, Fitzgerald fell in love while stationed in the military. (He met his wife, Zelda, when he was stationed at Camp Sheridan in Alabama.)
7. West Egg/East Egg
Though Fitzgerald created the fictional towns on Long Island where The Great Gatsby takes place, he drew much inspiration from real-life locations. Great Neck, where the Fitzgeralds moved to in 1922, was home to “newly wealthy” New Yorkers — whereas towns situated across the bay were home to established, wealthy families. (The “old money,” as it were.)
In The Great Gatsby, Gatsby himself lives in the fictional West Egg – home of the “new money” – while Daisy and her family live in old money territory across the bay, East Egg.
8. Gatsby’s Digs
Several mansions on Long Island inspired Fitzgerald’s vision of Gatsby’s lavish home, including these two – Oheka Castle and Beacon Towers, both now demolished:
9. Cover Love
The original cover of The Great Gatsby features an original piece of art by Francis Cugat (see below), and supposedly Fitzgerald loved it so much he told his editor he had “written it into” the book.
It’s been disputed whether he was referring to the description of the billboard of fictional optometrist Dr. T.J. Eckleburg — or a later description of Daisy, as the “girl whose disembodied face floated along the dark cornices and blinding signs.”
The Great Gatsby was originally published by Scribner’s in 1925, and supposedly their copyright is set to expire in 2020.
Words are weapons. Facts can be manipulated. And nothing is absolute—especially right and wrong.
Tanner McKay is at Bannerman Prep for one reason: to win. The elite school recruited him after he argued his public school’s debate team to victory last year, and now Bannerman wants that championship trophy. Debate is Tanner’s life—his ticket out of scrimping and saving and family drama, straight to a scholarship to Stanford and a new, better future. When he’s paired with the prep school playboy everyone calls the Duke, Tanner’s straightforward plans seem as if they’re going off the rails. The Duke is Bannerman royalty, beloved for his laissez-faire attitude, crazy parties, and the strings he so easily pulls. And a total no-show when it comes to putting in the work to win.
As Tanner gets sucked into the Duke’s flashy world, the thrill of the high life and the adrenaline of the edge become addictive. A small favor here and there seems like nothing in exchange for getting everything he ever dreamed of.
But the Duke’s castle is built on shady, shaky secrets, and the walls are about to topple.
A contemporary retelling of The Great Gatsby, Katie A. Nelson’s taut debut is perfect for anyone who’s struggled to survive the cut-throat world of competitive high school.
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
Email proof of purchase and your address to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 8th to receive a signed bookplate and bookmark.
Katie Nelson has always loved words and stories. Formerly a high school English and Debate teacher, she now lives in Northern California with her husband, four children, and hyperactive dog.
Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads
Signed finished copy of The Duke of Bannerman Prep and Gatsby related swag. U.S. Only. Ends May 8th 11:59pm.
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- YAWednesdays – Modern Day Gatsby Apparel
- Books, Boys, and Blogs – Best of: Quotes from Duke & Things Every Gatsby Lover Should Have
- NovelNovice – Fun Facts About Gatsby to Know Before Reading The Duke of Bannerman Prep
- BookCrushin – eBooks versus Paper – The Great Debate in Honor of The Duke of Bannerman Prep
Wow! What a bummer he died thinking his novel was a failure.
WOW! I did not know most of this! Loved these facts! Thank you for sharing!
Gatsby. I have loved this tragic story since I was in 7th grade sooooooooooooooolong ago. I like the idea of placing it in a prep school. Should be good.