Friday, January 11, 2013

Tender is the Night by F. S. Fitzgerald - a Review

The Jazz Age was in full swing in 1920s Paris.  American expatriates met in the cafes, formed writer groups and wrote about life in Europe between the wars. Francis Scott Fitzgerald, author of Tender is the Night, was part of this literary gathering in Paris, along with Hemingway and a few others. They were dubbed part of the 'Lost Generation' by Gertrude Stein. 

Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night,
Scribner Paperback 2003

Tender is the Night is the story of Dick Diver, a brilliant young psychiatrist who falls in love with one of his patients, Nicole Warren. They travel in Europe, and have their own villa in France, near Cannes. The cover photo shown above is my copy of the book, the original version of the story.

In Part I, the Divers are the sophicated, elegant couple on the Riviera, the shining stars of their own parties. Into this setting are invited those who amuse the couple, and a few regulars who know the rules.  Dick and Nicole seem to be the idyllic couple, but hiding behind this illusion are the secret lovers, the hushed whispers, the illness not-to-be-discussed.

Part II, the backstory in this edition, shows how Dick and Nicole met and how Dick is absorbed into the bullish Warren family. The relationship is fraught with problems which are never addressed, steeping resentment on both sides.

Part III, accustomed to the high lifestyle and unhealthy habits he has acquired, Dick looks for something to reaffirm his faith in life. His health begins to suffer. Nicole is also looking for something more.


Fitzgerald's prose is rich, like chocolate.  I liked the insider's view of high society in a time when adults in their twenties and thirties were unsure of what the future held for them. In this version of Tender is the Night, the backstory in Part 2 was a risk. This format wasn't popular with the readers of the day. In response, a new edition was published in the 1950s, changing the sections to a chronological order.

Considered one of the great writers of the 20th century, F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 - 1940) died at home of a massive heart attack at the relatively young age of 44.  Poor health and lifelong alcoholism were the main reasons given for his death.

Other novelsThis Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby, and the posthumously, The Love of the Last Tycoon.  Publisher: Scribner Paperback, 2003.


Are you a fan of the author, F. Scott Fitzgerald?  Have you read any of his other works? The Great Gatsby? Did you know that many compared Fitzgerald to Dick Diver, the character in Tender is the NightPlease share in the comments.


References: - F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, early background, the Jazz Age. - The Novel - the Lost Generation