Give me your answer do

29 06 2013

Daisy Miller by Henry James


Entertaining-ish novella. Winterbourne is an American in Europe. Takes a fancy to young compatriot Daisy. She’s flirty, his aunt disapproves, things move on as does Winterbourne. To Geneva. Later on they meet in Rome. Daisy seems to be hanging out with lots of Italian chaps. Everyone disapproves. Daisy hooks up with Giovanelli and they visit the Colosseum together where they are spotted by Winterbourne. He berates her for running the risk of catching “Roman Fever”. She then does catch Roman Fever (whatever it actually is) and [spoiler alert] dies. Ah well. Short book. Short life. Some important lessons for Americans on tour.

3 star

Damned annoying

15 06 2013

The Beautiful and Damned by F Scott Fitzgerald


Few writers have been as successful as F. Scott Fitzgerald in conveying autobiographical materials into literary art. The Beautiful and Damned transforms the now-familiar stories about F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s early marriage–the scandalous public behaviour, the nights of drunken revelry and days darkened by the ever-present shadow of insurmountable debt – into a captivating work of fiction.

Anthony Patch ‘one of those many with tastes and weaknesses of an artist but with no actual creative inspiration’ and the beautiful, flirtatious Gloria, are newly married. Anticipating an inheritance from Anthony’s family, they embrace a style of life far beyond their means. In chronicling their decline–moral, physical, and financial–and offering a grimly ironic twist at the end, Fitzgerald created a satirical yet poignant portrait of the generation he and his work would define, not only for his contemporaries, but for all future readers.

Swept up with all of the current Gatsby hype I thought I would catch up on a Fitzgerald I’d not read before (and there is only one definite article in the title despite what I had previously thought). It’s a long one and, as the blurb suggests, is clearly autobiographical in part. However, captivating it is not and really just feels like at time like an extended whinge about the awfulness of life when you have too much money, nothing useful to do and an overwhelming sense of entitlement. I found it impossible to feel any sympathy with any of the main characters and the decline in their fortunes matched the drop in my level of interest in the whole book. They may be beautiful but they really did deserve a damning assessment.

2 star

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