The Beautiful and the Damned

So I finished yet another book by Fitzgerald.  As usual the writing is top notch but the story and characters are atrocious. THe story line is simple enough,rich and aimless kid Anthony falls in love with socialite Gloria.  They marry and they try as much as possible to be lazy as possible in keeping in line with their rich status, but slowly there’s the threat of money spigot turning off. And the book tracks the way the couple try to deal with that prospect while trying to stay lovingly married.  Other themes such as disillusionment and the monotonicity of living work their way into the book.

Anthony is a lovable goof, but he is lazy and he believes somehow he’s owed his living.  Gloria is superficial, but bit more cynical. She obsessed with her beautiful looks.  The book has some interesting and deep passages on life and such. However its analysis of Gloria really really falls short of the mark. Fitzgerald has never been good with his female characters, it really shows here in Gloria.  She really is obsessed with keeping beautiful and making sure everyone else acknowledges her beauty.  There was one incident in which she decides to audition for the pictures before her 30th birthday just so that she could preserve her looks. That was a hard read.  Gloria came off as incredibly shallow.  I suppose that was Fitzgerald’s intention here.

Some would argue that the book was meant as a morality tale against idleness, so realistic characters are not needed.  But I have read 3 books by Fitzgerald so far, he has the same views of women in each of them. It’s hard to ignore.  But hey even though the book is on the whole dull, I would read it again. It took a me a long while to read it all, but I did.  The prose and the carefully crafted scenes more than makes up for the lacklustre story.   I especially liked the train station scene when Anothony and two of friends rag off personal philosophies as dawn lights up the sky.

And now I’m onto my fourth book by Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night.



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