Flashback Friday: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald Book Review 

Title: The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby Book Review

Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Year Published: 1925

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Genre(s): Modernist, Jazz Age

Since completing university, I realised I’ve   abandoned classic literature in favour of some more generic or commercial novel. So to encourage or force myself to continue reading classic novels, plays and poetry, I’ve decided to take part in a meme known as “Flashback Friday”. On the last Friday of every month, I will upload a book review of an older or classic novel. Last month’s choice was Jane Austen’s Persuasion (Which you can read here). Since we’re in the party season and less than a week away to the New Year, I thought I would write a review of a novel that features some of the most extravagant party scenes; The Great Gatsby

 I first picked this up when I was sixteen as it was a set text in my English A levels. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed it back then, it frustrates me that I didn’t appreciate it as much as I do now. In truth, The Great Gatsby made me completely change the way in which I read books, or indeed, any piece of literature and is one of the reasons I chose to pursue an English degree. When I opened this to reread it a flood of nostalgia hit me like a yellow car (wink wink if you got that reference).

Set in 1920’s America during the decadent Jazz age. Nick Carraway, protagonist and narrator of the story moves to New York to pursue a business in the bonds market (an allusion to the crash and depression of ‘29). He meets up with his second cousin, Daisy Buchanan, her brutal husband, Tom Buchanan and their friend, Jordan Baker. All the while, Nick hears of his enigmatic neighbour, Gatsby who throws outrageous and decadent parties. Nick finally meets Gatsby and discovers that Gatsby and Daisy were previously lovers until Gatsby had to leave for the Great War and Daisy married Tom. The parties are just a ruse and a way to gain Daisy’s attention and Gatsby befriends Nick in order to reunite with Daisy and rekindle the romance from the past.

What I love so much about this book is that it’s a mere nine chapters and manages to pack so much into those chapters. Every time I read it, I find something that I never realised was there before, or make a new connection, or read it with a different perspective. Fitzgerald is such an incredible writer and manages to make the reader sympathise with unlikeable characters but also make us relate to the novel. Let’s face it, who isn’t over an ex? Or pursuing a dream? The novel is bursting through the seams, and encapsulates themes such as obsessive love, pursuit of the past, tragedy, recklessness, nihilism. So if you’re interested in being challenged but also just want to sit down and enjoy a classic, then this is just the novel you need to read. I urge anyone who has not read this book to just give it a chance! I assure, you will NOT be disappointed.

The Bug’s Verdict 10/10!!

Quote of the Day: “It struck him that how you spent Christmas…

“It struck him that how you spent Christmas was a message to the world about where you were in life”

– Nick Hornby, About A Boy 

Merry Christmas everyone! Yep, it’s Christmas day is finally here and I hope you enjoy it no matter what you’re doing whether it’s stuffing your face with Turkey, watching Christmas movies, or snuggling in a blanket! Enjoy!

 

Quote of the Day: “What If Christmas…”

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

– Dr. Seuss, How The Grinch Stole Christmas!

Christmas is only a week away so I thought it only appropriate to post one of my favourite Christmas Quotes. This perfectly captures the essence of Christmas as a period of sentimentality, not as the materialistic holiday we’ve so cynically become accustom to. So I hope you enjoy the run up to Christmas and all it brings this year for you!

B xx

Quote of the Day: “There are only the pursued, the pursuing…”

“There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired.”

– F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby is one of my absolute favourite novels. It contains so many incredible passages so don’t be surprised if another line from this amazing novel pops up on my Quote of the Day. But for now, I want to focus on this short yet very effective line.

Having just recently graduated from university, I’m in the midst of pursuing a career, one in which I simply wish to be happy in. It got me thinking that at times we are all of these things, pursuing our dreams, whether it is a job, wealth or even love.  Whether we ever reach those dreams is another question. And from pursuing these dreams we become busy and tired. So what’s the point in it all? I’ll leave that up to you to decide, my dear readers…

And that concludes todays session of reflection and pessimism.

B xx

Flashback Friday: Persuasion by Jane Austen Book Review

Persuasion Book ReviewTitle: Persuasion

Author: Jane Austen

Year Published: 1817

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Genre: Classic Literature, Romance, Romantic,

Since completing university, I’ve realised I’ve   abandoned classic literature in favour of some more generic or commercial novel. So to encourage or force myself to continue reading classic novels, plays and poetry, I’ve decided to take part in a meme known as “Flashback Friday”. On the last Friday of every month, I will upload a book review of an older or classic novel. This month’s choice is Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

Persuasion, is perhaps, one of Austen’s lesser known novels. Written whilst she was on her death bed, the story focuses on the out of bloom and often quiet character, Anne, who at 27 has been written off as unmarriageable material. Anne however, at the tender age of 19 had fallen in love with Frederick Wentworth, a young man of little wealth and small social standing. When he proposed however, Anne was persuaded by her good friend Lady Russel, to refuse him. Now, almost eight years later, Frederick Wentworth has returned and proudly wears the title “Captain” with an equally honourable wealth. Anne must now painfully endure being constantly in his seemingly cold company as he courts her one of her cousins.

With every word, we, as the reader feel every ounce of pain Anne feels as she re-encounters, every pounding heartbeat. The beauty of Austen’s writing is that she manages to convey every emotion her protagonist feels, purely through her skill as a writer. In the hands of any other, this novel could be considered boring or conventional. Yet Austen manages to keep her reader on a rollercoaster of emotion, emotions you would feel if you were reading perhaps a murder mystery or thriller. Yet this is no thriller. This is an emotional piece of art.

Persuasion has the disadvantage of being one of the least polished of Austen’s novels as she never had the chance to meticulously revise her writing as she had with her other novels such as Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice. Despite this, her distinctive wit and irony never fails to shine through her writing through secondary characters such as Sir Walter, Anne’s vain father or her attention-seeking younger sister, Mary, making this novel to be one of the most charming she ever wrote.

I urge everyone and anyone to read this beautiful, timeless novel. I assure you, you will not be disappointed!

The Bug’s Verdict: 10/1o!!

Lit-to-Flick: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014) Movie Review

Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth in action as Katniss Everdeen and Gale Hawthorne

Yes, I am one of those people who HAS to go watch the movie on the day it comes out in theatres. So of course, I wasted no time in rushing to book tickets for the latest instalment of The Hunger Games.

Let’s recap slightly, in the last movie Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) was sent back in the arena to fight a battle to the death. However, this time her opponents weren’t innocent children, but calculated, skilled killers, victors from the previous games. Unknown to Katniss and her fellow tribute, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) , a select number of victors were plotting to get her out of the arena in order to use her as a symbol of the revolution. This in turn would unite the Districts as one against the Capitol. Whilst Katniss was saved , Peeta was taken hostage by President Snow (Donald Sutherland). In this instalment, Katniss becomes the Mockingjay, while attempting to understand how and why Snow is using Peeta. Meanwhile, the unrest that had been brewing in the other Districts has turned to all out war.

As always, I’m going to sing the praises of such a stellar cast. Lawrence as Katniss continues to shine in the lead role  and manages to perfectly balance vulnerability and tenacity needed. Hutcherson has always been typecast as the “good guy”, yet he managed to step out of his comfort zone and show off his versatility as he portrayed Peeta as a tragically broken and erratic character. The late Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who this movie is dedicated to also reminds us of what a great talent the film industry has lost.  But it’s the addition of Julianne Moore as Alma Coin, President of  District 13, that truly made me appreciate her talent as she added depth and gravity to a character that was merely a sketch on a page.

It’s a relief knowing Francis Lawrence has returned to direct this movie and the next as special effects and cinematography were consistent throughout. Lawrence also makes the audience much more aware of Panem and the districts of a whole this time; In previous movies,  we only got glimpses into other districts from Katniss’ perspective, yet this time there appears to be more of the geography of the nation as a whole, to demonstrate the extent of the war and the tragic consequences it holds.

Ultimately, this IS a war movie, and clearly demonstrates how people suffer in war, how they fight in it and how they survive it. One of the most attractive elements of The Hunger Games’ series is it’s political undertones and at times, this dystopian YA movie cleverly comments on the effects the media plays in our everyday lives. In the movie, both the rebels and the Capitol use media coverage and propaganda videos (or propo’s) to influence the outcome of the war. In one particularly poignant scene Katniss is filmed singing a song called “The Hanging Tree” which begins as her singing alone and builds up as people from the districts begin to sing along. Soon her voice becomes lost within the voices of the rebels.  This incredibly effective scene ties together two key themes; rebellion within the society, and what, ironically, unifies those that rebel .

Having said all that, where this movie does fail is in the pacing. Whilst the first two instalments were filled to the brim with adrenaline pumping moments, this seemed to be lacking in this movie.  Considering this is a war movie, you would’ve thought there would be more action. However, when there is action it is packed with both energy and raw emotion that make them particularly effective and convey the damages of war such as loss of life. There are also many scenes that have been added that go beyond Katniss’ perspective. Some of which work and some of which don’t and disrupt the flow of the actual plot.

Harry Potter, The Twilight Series and The Hobbit have all undergone the split in two movies treatment (or three in The Hobbit’s case). In each of these instances, I never truly believed that the split was a decision made for creative reasons and was just merely a scheme for Hollywood executives to pocket more money. However, this is one instance where I DO believe the decision was made to allow more time and development of the plot of the movie and perhaps this will be evident in the second part. However, this has affected the story of the first part because that’s exactly what it feels like; a PART. It does not feel like it is a whole film; as a result it lacks plot and character development.

All in all, I can’t quiet say that this movie was entirely satisfying or fulfilling. But that perhaps is the intention; To keep us thirsty until the final instalment next year…

The Bug’s Verdict: 8/10

Based on: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Screenplay by: Danny Strong and Peter Craig

Directed by: Francis Lawrence

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Stanley Tucci, Sam Claflin, Donald Sutherland and more!