Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I read this book back in high school because I love Gatsby and I was haunted by the title. So beautiful. And the story that it told was as beautiful as the title.

I decided to re-read it though because while I could say that I loved the story, the prose -- as expected from Fitzgerald -- paints such a captivating pictures of a tragic love affair and Paris and the French Riveria -- I was fairly certain that I was too young to fully understand what all was happening in the story.

So I read the book again. It was as beautiful and tragic as I remember. A doctor falls in love with a mental patient. He seems to be the only person capable of saving her. But he does too well in caring for her -- at least that would be his assessment. After years of marriage and two children, Nicole becomes well -- as well an anyone else at least. And seeing that she is no longer dependent on him, her husband Dick Diver begins to lose interest. Instead he's drawn to young actress, attracted by her youth and her need. Dick doesn't want to be in love, he doesn't want a healthy partner, he wants someone dependent on him. He wants to be the hero, his lover's salvation. He has no use for a healthy Nicole. Therin lies the tragedy.

The story is about their love affair, their marriage and then subsequent disintegration of their relationship. While that could be a story told a million times, one which happens in at least half of all relationships, it's Fitzgerald's prose that makes this story worth reading. This is the kind of writing that makes you ache and you feel their lives falling apart, watch them begin to go their different directions and realize their love was never love at all.

Finished reading: April 20, 2008 (second time)