Holiday Reading: The Great Gatsby and Neverwhere

Phew, I really hit the books this holidays! The fun kind – not the textbook kind. Yes, riveting as it is, I abandoned the history of the Australian legal system to knock a few items off my never-ending to-read list. So I have a double review to write today.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 
Really glad I got around to reading this one! The Great Gatsby is one of those classic novels that everyone is supposed (and sometimes forced) to read. But in this case, I think there’s a good reason for that. My inner history nerd really enjoys classic novels. Nonetheless, I can understand why some people are not fans. But if you’ve tried and failed before I do recommend giving this one a try.

Fitzgerald”s famous story unfolds amid the glamour and scandal of the Roaring Twenties. Personally I think it’s a really fascinating period to read about, and the novel completely captures the restlessness and uncertainty society faced after WWI.  Things were changing, the world was becoming more like the one we know today. Enter Gatsby, and you have your story.

The language is not at all difficult so it’s not a chore to get through. I actually read this one on a short plane trip from Sydney to New Zealand and even if you’re not a fast reader I can’t imagine it would be a trial. It’s very readable and the plot moves along nicely the whole way through.
I won’t review this one too critically – it’s so well-known and it’s been picked apart by so many people.  Besides, according to Wikipedia is has been the named the second-best novel of the 20th century  So give it a go!  Wiki never lies. Even if you don’t enjoy it you’ll consider yourself a more well-rounded person and display the Penguin edition on your coffee table for indie cred.

The 1974 film is next on my watch list.

“If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promise of life, as if he related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the ‘creative temperament’-it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.”

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (1996)

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Oh my oh my.  Where has this author been all my life?

I knew that we were going to get along as soon I started reading the author’s note and was assured that Neverwhere was going to be a stand alone novel.  I have a problem with sequels which I probably shouldn’t go into right now.  Basically, I’m sick to death of having a sequel sprung on me in the last 10 pages of a novel.  I paid my money to find out what happens godammit! I didn’t read the other Hunger Games books on principle . .  Okay, ehem.  Back to Neverwhere.

Underneath the streets of London is London Below – a mysterious parallel city filled with those who’ve slipped through the cracks of society.  The main character is a young businessman called Richard, who stumbles unwittingly into this world after rescuing a young woman, Door.

So this wonderful novel is urban fantasy, which is always rather gorgeous.  I’ve always love it when an author juxtaposes city life and fairytale, romance and darkness. Gaiman says he wanted  “to write a book that would do for adults what the books I had loved when younger, books like Alice in Wonderland, or the Narnia books, or the Wizard of Oz did for me as a kid.” He certainly succeeded. There’s an Earl who holds his court in the carriage of an underground train.  A floating market held in Harrods in the dead of night.  A labyrinth and a beast below the city. An eclectic cast of quirky and sometimes frightening brutal characters.  This is a fairytale for the big kids. It’s colourful and grungy and it sent my imagination into overdrive.  It’s the sort of book that makes me want to abandon university and just write, write, write.

Okay, I’m not going to do that.  But I’m definitely adding some more Gaiman books to my list.

“You’ve a good heart. Sometimes that’s enough to see you safe wherever you go. But mostly, it’s not.”

Next review will be The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, followed by The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling.

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5 thoughts on “Holiday Reading: The Great Gatsby and Neverwhere

  1. Welcome to the wonderful world of Neil Gaiman! the guy only writes incredible stuff. If you liked Neverwhere (which you obviously did!), give Coraline or Stardust a try.

    I remember having to read The Great Gatsby when i was in high school. I certianly didn’t dislike it, but c’mon, i was 15 year old, so i certainly didn’t understand any of the subtleties. I should really give it another try.

    I’m looking forward to your review of Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible, i love that novel so much!!

    • Ohhh I will definitely be reading some more Gaiman in the near future 😀 I’ll have to check out those two – I’ve seen both the films I think.

      Thanks the comment and the follow!

    • Well, I really enjoyed it but I don’t know if I would say that I LOVED it. I think it was very beautifully written and I liked the atmosphere the author created. The plot picked up a lot towards the end but it didn’t draw me in straight away. Because it’s a short book that wasn’t really a problem but I guess that would be my criticism.

      • I agree that most of the exciting parts were on the second half of the story. Maybe that is also why I found the first parts (a bit) dragging. I’m really curious to hear comments of people who actually loved the book and see The Great Gatsby on their perspective. Thanks for the reply.

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