In Book I of Tender is the Night by F.Scott Fitzgerald we meet Dick and Nicole Diver. They are American ex-pats living the glamorous life in the French Riviera. All who meet Dick and Nicole are charmed by them. And the reader is romanced too... It is anything but the good life for the Divers though, and soon cracks on the smooth surface are revealed. There is an air of mystery surrounding Dick and Nicole. Between their personalities and series of events that include other characters, windows open on their steadily crumbling relationship.
It is only in Book II that the real story about the Divers comes to light. Dick is a doctor of psychoanalysis. Nicole is his disturbed patient, whose very complicated relationship with her father leads to a breakdown. Dick ultimately marries Nicole--as if by marrying her a cure would be found. Due to Nicole's monetary wealth, they are able to live a life or relative ease and luxury. However, money cannot buy happiness. And over time actions by Dick and Nicole each have consequences that ruin their marriage, which comes to a breaking point.
The Divers are friends and associate with others who are much like themselves in that they have everything money could buy, but where dreams mingle with disillusion. For all her mental instability, Nicole is ultimately the one who lives, survives and thrives in the intensity and collapse around her. While it is Dick who, though charismatic and gifted, falls victim to his own destruction. A very sad, sad tale of love, the complexities of relationships, adultery, mental illness, dissatisfaction and failed potential.
Re-visiting this book again after many years, I was surprised to find myself not very captivated by it. In my youth I loved reading F.Scott Fitzgerald, and I still do now. The Great Gatsby is still my favorite of his novels. Many find Tender is the Night a more personal story... And that it is, since it largely draws on Fitzgerald's own experiences with his wife Zelda, who like the character of Nicole Diver, was also mentally unstable. There is much merit in the writing, the prose is handled brilliantly. But the pacing of the story is so choppy as to be almost distracting. And the characters, the secondary ones especially, seem to have no real substance--no life, no blood. They are all meant to be artists, creative or important in one capacity or another, but they left me cold. Encounters and dialogue between characters felt stiff. There is a heavy sense of ennui hanging over all the characters and all of the situations encompassing the plot. By the time I reached the end of the book, which has a very open ending, the whole story seemed like one broken down car slowly falling to pieces. I was only to happy to leave behind this sad mix of characters and events.
During the month of May I will be taking a break from my Year of Classic Reading. There may be not as much time for reading as usual in May, as we will very soon be taking a trip to the USA to visit family and friends! We leave on May 19th, and will be away for about two weeks. While across the ocean, we will be attending a wedding. And May is a beautiful blooming time in Pennsylvania, so we look forward to a day trip or two if we can manage it. Very excited! So with less than three weeks until we leave there is such a lot do... Though the classic reading will be on hold, returning in June, Dear Husband and I will continue our year of exploring classical music. Stravinsky will be the featured composer for May.
Many thanks to those who have signed up already for the Haiku Festival! Anyone still considering joining in, there is still plenty of time.
Tomorrow, Friday, is a public holiday--May Day/International Worker's Day-Labor Day. So we have a free day making a long weekend. Dear Husband and I plan on some tidy up work in the garden and some fun too. And, if I am lucky, some time in my work room creating. So I may be away from the computer for the next couple of days... Wishing all you good friends a lovely weekend--Happy Days! See you next week! :o)